Camouflaged Blessings

Camouflaged Blessings

My son loves to wear camouflage.

He’s never been hunting a day in his life, but he dreams that someday he will go. Recently, he told his daddy he wishes they could go moose hunting in Alaska. (I mean, why not start big?)

We’re city people so when my boy wears his camo, it’s more for fashion than functionality. He loves the style, and I love him for it. For many people, though, camouflage has very practical purposes, providing the element of disguise and preventing the person from being seen.

As I type these words, we’re several weeks into a statewide lockdown due to the spread of the coronavirus. My husband has been off work for the past three weeks. And as a family, we’re each dealing with various emotions and grieving significant disappointments.

For us, this is a time of weakness.

We can’t predict what tomorrow holds. Any semblance of control has been stripped away. We trust that God will give us our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), but if I’m being honest, I like the idea of monthly bread better. I prefer a stocked pantry and a sufficient bank account.

I don’t like this emotional roller coaster of the what-ifs that so often invade my mind. Yet repeatedly during these days, God impresses on my heart that it’s good to be in need.

These are camouflaged blessings, these weaknesses which remind us we need God.

Paul understood this reality when he declared, [God] said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT).

Uncertain days are rich with opportunities for God to show up. A life outside our control reminds us of the good God who’s always in control.  Let’s embrace the eternity hidden in these days and point our kids to the God who still works miracles.

Here are some practical tips:

• Pray for awareness

Several months ago, before the Coronavirus became a pandemic, I asked our kids how they’ve seen God answer prayer. Pondering the silence that met my question, I realized how infrequently we pray about specific needs. We pray generally for missionaries and for salvation for the lost. But when we need something, we often look for ways to meet it ourselves. I began asking God to make us aware of our needs so we can see Him working as our provider.

Prayerfully take inventory of your needs—physical, emotional, and spiritual. Make a list or write down each item individually on index cards.

• Talk to God about each need

Using that list or those index cards, pray as a family about each item. Ask for His perspective and for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you pray.

• Anticipate His provision

Remind yourself of His promises. Here are a few of my favorites:

“And my God shall meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, NIV.)

“…Your Father already knows your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” (Luke 12:30-31, NLT).

“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion…” (2 Corinthians 9:11, NIV).

Write down your favorite verses and display them around the house for encouragement. Choose to worship Him as you wait—singing your favorite praise songs, thanking Him for the blessings He’s already given, remembering what you know to be true of Him.• Reach out to others in need

There’s great joy in serving other people as a family, even when we have our own needs. Ask God to point out ways He wants to use you to invest in the lives of others. Pray for those needs and serve however in whatever ways He leads.

Our greatest needs are often camouflaged blessings, setting the stage for God to work powerfully on our behalf. Let’s seize these opportunities to grow closer to Him as a family. Let’s remind ourselves of His trustworthiness and walk by faith in these uncertain times.

The Blessing Box: Cultivating Gratefulness All Year Long

The Blessing Box: Cultivating Gratefulness All Year Long

“I’m writing a note to God,” my preschooler announces proudly.

Blessing Box Inside

She thoughtfully scribbles her message on a 3×5 card, then opens the hinged lid of our ”Blessing Box” and adds her note to the jumbled mess of index cards. It looks disorderly, even confusing, but to me it’s a beautiful mess. 

Each of those mismatched cards is a record of something important to us – a three-year old’s note to God, a list of things we’re thankful for, a prayer request and its subsequent answer.

I wish I could say we are systematic in adding cards to our blessing box. I wish I could tell you how often we take it out and read its contents. But, alas, this busy mama is far less organized and consistent than I like to admit.

Despite my unfulfilled great intentions, however, there it sits on my grandmother’s hutch in our bustling dining room—a constant reminder to count our many blessings, an ever-present invitation to recall the faithfulness of God.

We add to it at random. We open it up and read on occasion.

Like the other night when my oldest daughter put the box on the table before dinner. She gave each of us a blank card and instructed us write something for which we are thankful. Then she passed around the box for us to drop in our card and pick out another to read aloud.

Or the other morning when the kids and I all had bad attitudes and needed to reflect on God’s good gifts—our family and friends, an air-conditioned home, clothes and shoes, food and clean water, and the fact that Jesus loves children (my three-year-old’s contribution). Our focus shifted as we remembered the good things we’ve been given.

Or that season a while back when money was tight and work was slow. I recorded a very specific prayer request for provision and was thrilled to record God’s answer the very next day.


Many a memory is preserved in our treasured blessing box.

Do you have a place to record things for which you’re thankful? In case you’d like to create your own blessing box, here’s how we did it:

  1. Choose a box – I picked one that fit our décor, because I planned for it to have a permanent home in a prominent location. I love the hinged lid because it’s easy for little hands to open (and can’t get lost!)
  2. Stock up on pens and index or thankfulness cards. — We keep these in a nearby drawer so they’re always handy when we have something to record.
  3. Get everyone involved — Our family knows that anyone can add to or read from our blessing box at any time.

This has been a great tool for us in cultivating gratitude and making memories as a family.

How do you count your blessings? I’d love to hear — please leave a comment below!

Nothing to Prove

She washed my feet that day.

It was hot and dusty in Ensenada, Mexico. So many things were different from what I knew – outdoor bathrooms, eating in the open air, houses with just two rooms in them, little stores in people’s homes… A completely new culture. And I loved it. I fell in love there…with fish tacos. And, more importantly, with the Mexican people. So beautiful. So generous. So kind.


We had just returned from a neighborhood outreach where we hosted a game of “football” (or “soccer,” as we Americans call it.) My sandaled feet were dusty and dirty from walking on the unpaved roads, so I sat down on a retaining wall next to a water spigot to wash them.


A Mexican woman, my sister in Christ, watched as I tried to balance on the wall while scrubbing my feet. Then suddenly, she walked over and knelt beside me. She took my dirty feet in her hands and began to wash them for me.


I was speechless. How do you thank someone who just showed you Jesus in such a vivid way?

That memory is forever etched in my heart and mind. I don’t even know her name. But she was Jesus to me that day. And someday I will meet her again. We will talk uninhibited by language barriers about the Servant Master we both love.

This memory came to mind recently as I read from John 13 with my kids. Jesus, Creator of the universe, Most High God and King of Kings, knelt before His followers and served them. He did the lowest of jobs, a job reserved for servants, when He washed their stinky feet. It was a picture of His love for them. And an example for them (and us) to follow.

But I’ve always wondered why the Bible includes verse three – “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God.” Apparently, this was the basis of His service. What significance did this knowledge have for Jesus? Philippians 2:6-7 gives an interesting parallel. Jesus, “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-slave…

The man Jesus was totally secure in His identity. The Father knew Him and had given Him authority over all things. That was enough for Jesus. He didn’t have to prove that, to grasp that equality. It’s who He is, regardless of whether people recognized Him or not. Because He didn’t live for the approval of man, He was able to empty Himself and serve.

And that can be true of us as well. A few verses earlier in Phillipians 2, we are told to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (v. 3). It’s not that we are less important than others. We are all made in the image of God. But we don’t have to prove our worth, because God knows us and has given us our identity.

As God’s child, I am chosen and greatly loved. I have been made holy and blameless through the blood of Christ. I was adopted because He wanted me. He has freely, lavishly, bestowed grace upon me and has given me every spiritual blessing. I am redeemed and forgiven. His intentions toward me, His child, are kind. I have been given an eternal inheritance and have received the Holy Spirit to seal and guarantee that inheritance. His surpassingly great power is for me. (See Eph 1.) In Christ who loves me, I overwhelmingly conquer (Rom 8:37). Direct, bold access has been granted to the throne room of the Almighty (Heb 4:16). He has personally drawn me near (Eph 2:13). I am firmly rooted and complete in Christ (Col 2:7,10). I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), God’s masterpiece (Eph 2:10). And nothing, absolutely nothing, can ever separate me from the steadfast love of my Jesus (Rom 8:38).

That is just a taste of my identity as a follower of Jesus. Is it yours? If you know Jesus, it is your identity as well. Nothing can change that – not our sin, not the opinion of others. Our Creator defines us and has blessed us beyond measure.

If God knows us, and says this is who we are, we have no need to “grasp equality” with those around us. We have nothing to prove. So like Jesus, we can freely serve those God puts in our lives. The indwelling Spirit of Jesus will direct and empower us as He lives His life through us.

When has someone been Jesus to you?