A gift from Zappos


Posted by Wendy | Posted in Big G, Me | Posted on 04-01-2014

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Recently, my husband wrote to Zappos asking them if it was at all possible for him to return a pair of shoes that, over time, he realized he didn’t like.

See he had ordered many pairs of sneakers, wore them around the house for a few hours before deciding on one pair and sending the rest back. He then brought this pair on our summer vacation to San Francisco and Yosemite…and that’s when it happened. He started to feel a digging in the side of his foot and no longer liked the shoes. After vacation, he didn’t really wear them and returned to Zappos to find another pair. Six months later he wrote to Zappos and asked if he could return them.

They said yes…with a 100% refund!

You think he would be excited…but he wasn’t. His brow was furrowed and you could tell he was deep in thought.

Now my brow furrowed. I asked, “Aren’t you happy?” And he said, “But I wore them, I was maybe thinking of a 50% credit or something. I just don’t understand. How are they making a profit?”

He was basically saying, “This seems unfair” and he’s right. It is.

That’s the thing about gifts. The Oxford Dictionary defines a gift as “(noun) a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present”.

Gifts are given without any benefit to the giver.

But is that how we give gifts?

Think about Christmas. How many of those gifts felt like an obligation versus a desire, a true desire to give something to someone without expecting anything in return?

So is it any wonder that my husband struggles with the concept of accepting an over-the-top refund from Zappos?

And is it any wonder that we struggle to accept God’s gift? And if we cannot accept this gift ourselves, how do we explain it to everyone else?

Things that make you go hmm…


Posted by Wendy | Posted in Big G | Posted on 28-05-2013

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I really resonated with this excerpt from Donald Miller’s Searching for God Knows What:

For his humanities class, Omar was assigned to read the majority of the Bible. He asked to meet with me for coffee, and when we sat down he put a Bible on the table as well as a pamphlet containing the five or six ideas – man was a sinner, sin separated man from, and Christ died to absolve the separation. He opened the pamphlet, read the ideas, and asked if these concepts were important to the central message of Christianity. I told Omar they were critical; that, basically, this was the gospel of Jesus, the backbone of the Christian faith. Omar then opened his Bible and asked, “If these ideas are so important, why aren’t they in this book?”

“But the Scripture references are right here,” I said curiously, showing Omar the verses were printed next to each idea.

“I see that,” he said, “But in the Bible they aren’t concise like they are in this pamphlet. They are spread out all over the book.”

“But this pamphlet is a summation of the ideas,” I clarified.

“Right,” Omar continued, “but it seems like, if these are ideas are that critical, God would have taken the time to make bullet points out of them. Instead, He put some of them here and some of them there. And half the time, when Jesus is talking, He is speaking entirely in parables. It is hard to believe that whatever it is He is talking about can be summed up this simply.”

Formulas and relationships


Posted by Wendy | Posted in Big G, Books | Posted on 24-05-2013

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Oftentimes we think of the Bible as a self-help book. We think there are formulas that will help us to be better people…to be more like God and less like us, really, to be perfect. Early on, I learned I love formulas. I loved math and science. It just made sense. 2+2=4 always. There was no room for interpretation. There was no debate. There were no sides of the argument to consider before solving the equation. There was just the formula. Black and white. Clear as can be. As an engineer throughout college and in the first eight years of my career, I lived within this domain of science and formulas. It was easy to live there. There was little confusion or room for argument.

Recently, I started working for a church and, so far, it’s the hardest job I’ve had. Besides the blurred lines between my personal and work life, I also struggled with the people aspect of my job. By that I mean, ultimately, the church’s product is people. It’s about giving people the opportunity to take steps that get them closer to God, that enable them to continue moving on in their faith journey.

In the corporate world, I worked with consumer goods. Our products were tangible items that people consumed. Working with people is hard, really hard, because relationships are messy. There are no formulas for every situation or personality you encounter for the 6 billion people on this planet. Heck, not even animals respond to formulas (says the proud owner of two cats and rabbits)!

So I identified with the author Don Miller of Searching for God Knows What when he wrote the following:

It made me wonder, honestly, if such a complex existence as the one you and I are living can really be broken down into a few steps. It seems if there were a formula to fix life. Jesus would have told us what it was.

…when Jesus was walking around on earth He taught His disciples truths through experience, first telling them stories, then walking with them, then causing stuff to happen like a storm on the sea, then reiterating the idea He had taught them the day before. Even then it took years before the disciples understood, and even then the Holy Spirit had to come and wrap things up. So it made me realize that either God didn’t know the formulas, or the formulas weren’t able to change a person’s heart.

To be honest, though, I don’t know how much I like the idea of my spirituality being relational.

The formulas propose that if you do this and this and this, God will respond…but it makes me secretly wonder we don’t wish God were a genie who could deliver a few wishes here and there. And that makes me wonder if what we really want from the formulas are the wishes, not God. It makes me wonder if what we really want is control, not a relationship.

I mean, who wouldn’t?! Formula are EASY! Formulas leave no room for debate. Why wouldn’t I want to control my life? It’s mine, isn’t it? Donald Miller goes on to say:

Relationships aren’t the best thing, if you ask me. People can be quite untrustworthy, and the more you get to know them — by that I mean the more you let somebody you know who you really are — the more it feels as though something is at stake. And that makes me nervous. It takes me a million years to get to know anybody pretty well, and even then the slightest thing will set me off. I feel it in my chest, this desire to dissociate. I don’t mean to be a jerk about it, but that is how I am wired. I say this because it makes complete sense to me that we would rather have a formula religion than a relational religion. If I could, I probably would have formula friends because they would be safe.

and ultimately so would I…

I have this suspicion, however, that if we are going to get to know God, it is going to be a little more like getting to know a person than practicing voodoo. And I suppose that means we are going to have to get over this fear of intimacy, or whatever you want to call it, in order to have an ancient sort of faith shared by all the dead apostles.

And this makes me think of people who have tried to live there lives with formulas – House, Bones, etc. OK, these are TV examples but they survived more than one season. Why did the networks keep them on? Because of viewers. Because it was popular with the American TV-watching audience. And why did people tune in? I think it’s because at some level, didn’t we identify with the main character? With their desire to have life explained totally by formulas and science, by reasoning and logic?



Posted by Wendy | Posted in Big G | Posted on 10-12-2012

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I heard this poem at Life Church. It broke my heart to think of the men and women who believe this.

God doesn’t love me
You can’t force me to believe
God is good
This is the One Truth in life
This world is a product of chance
How can I believe that
God will use my life
I know with certainty that
God has left me
Never again will I say that
Christ is Risen from the dead
I know now more than ever in my life that
Man can save himself
We must realize that it is ignorant to think
God answers prayers
Christians declare that
Without God this world would fall into darkness
This world can and will meet my needs
It is a lie to say that
God has always been there for me
I now realize that
No matter what I do
The Truth is
He doesn’t love me
How can I presume that
God is for me

Note – The poem, when read backwards, is a message full of hope. Check it out here.

Unbroken quote


Posted by Wendy | Posted in Books, quotes | Posted on 05-11-2012

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“What God asks of men is faith. His invisibility is the truest test of faith. To know who sees him, God makes himself unseen.”
Unbroken, pg. 375

What do I know?


Posted by Wendy | Posted in Big G | Posted on 24-10-2012

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“I guess I thought I had You figured out. I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about how You were mighty to save. Those were only empty words on a page…What do I know of Holy?”

I heard these lyrics this morning and was taken aback. What do I know of Holy? Do I have God all figured out? Do I take the time to listen? Or am I putting words in His mouth? Would I recognize God if he was here, today, right now? Or do I have a vision of who, when and what He’s supposed to be? What do I really know of Holy?

Full Lyrics:
I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life “its” name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

Song by Addison Road
Songwriters: Allison L Rogers, Jennifer Ann Simmons

Nehemiah was a leader


Posted by Wendy | Posted in Bible, Leadership | Posted on 26-07-2012

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“Nehemiah was able to accomplish a huge task against incredible odds because he learned that there is no success without risk of failure, no reward without hard work, no opportunity without criticism, and no true leadership without trust in God.”

~NASB study note from the book of Nehemiah



Posted by Wendy | Posted in Big G, Uncategorized, quotes | Posted on 17-06-2012

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Any time the church, Christians or Jesus followers leverages anything other than love we go backwards not forwards. Because Jesus said by this one thing all men will know that you’re my followers – how you love one another. And once the church got the power, they decided we’re not going to leverage love any more. We’ll leverage some other things. And so after the church got in control, The Great Commission began to sound more like this — “Therefore go and impose my teaching, values and world views on all nations threatening them with judgement and destruction if they don’t obey everything I commanded you.” That’s the message of a group that has the power, that is in control NOT the message of Jesus neither was it the message of the New Testament.

You don’t win peoples hearts by imposing your will. Somewhere along the way they (the church) decided we’re not going to leverage love any more. We’re going to leverage our power, our authority. We’re going to go from winning to threatening, from God is love to God will get you. And whenever the church, Christians or believers leverage anything other than the love of God, we go backwards every time.

I’m convinced because we’ve gotten this wrong, we’ve set ourselves unnecessarily at odds with culture.

~Excerpt from Andy Stanley’s Christian: Insiders Outsiders.

Faith and obedience


Posted by Wendy | Posted in Bible, Big G, quotes | Posted on 07-06-2012

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I just read this in the NASB Study Bible and it stood out to me:

“Faith is the step between promise and assurance. Miracles seem so out of reach for our feeble faith. But every miracle, large or small, begins with an act of obedience. We may not see the solution until we take the first step of faith.”

Beautiful Ending


Posted by Wendy | Posted in Big G, quotes | Posted on 11-02-2012

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Oh tragedy it’s taken so many
Love lost cause they all forgot who You were
And it scares me to think that I would choose my life over You
My selfish heart divides me from You
It tears us apart

So tell me what is our ending
Will it be beautiful?

~Selected portions of Barlowgirl’s Beautiful Ending lyrics