Tag Archives: doubt

Stop Second-Guessing Your Spanish Shoebox

Stop Second-Guessing Your Spanish Shoebox

I spent hours with a shoebox and crayons creating a spectacular bullfighting diorama to represent Spain, complete with an arena full of spectators for my 3rd grade “nations parade.” In the center of the box, I had a representation of a bull, played by our Little People cow, and of a fighter represented by a doll that was likely a hand-me-down with bright pink hair, sunglasses, and zebra-striped tights. Scaled to size, the pink-haired, trailblazing matadora would have been just shy of 10 feet tall.

This box was going to be secured to my 18” stubby Alf skateboard, which I would pull proudly through the halls with some random string/shoelace attached near the wheels.

Pictures from Google to help you see what went into the Spanish shoebox diorama 🙂

But sometime between finishing up the night before and displaying it for all my classmates the next morning, I started doubting.

Maybe I saw another student’s box and felt insecure about my own work, or perhaps someone said something I can’t remember all these decades later, but I do remember the confidence draining.

So when the teacher gave out the opportunity for students who weren’t finished to continue working on their projects during recess, I jumped at the chance like someone had just offered me one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets.

I did some quick research with an Encyclopedia Britannica and found that Spain is known for some impressive architecture, so with construction paper, a tissue box and 20 minutes, I fashioned some kind of building, relieving the cow and the doll of their duties, and covering up all the spectators with Scotch tape and sheets of green and yellow.

To this day I can remember the disappointment on my teacher’s face when I asked to change it up. She knew the box I started with represented a lot of effort and watching me doubt it and haphazardly change things out of fear certainly left her disheartened for me. I received a good grade, but deep down we both knew the first plan was better.

Sadly, that’s not the last time I have wimped out because of doubts and fear and uncertainty. When I am convinced I have a purpose or a calling or an assignment to do, I can start out full force. I am excited and feel passionate about it. Then something happens. I start to question if I have what it takes or whether it’s really something that’s needed. I wonder if it’s something other people will support. I start seeing myself falling flat on my face.

Priscilla Shirer, in Discerning the Voice of God, says “You will know God’s voice because it will bring encouragement along with conviction.” God speaks with conviction, while the enemy speaks with condemnation, she says. “When (God) speaks to you, His words will carry the continued hope of intimacy, friendship, and reconciled relationship.”

Those thoughts I have, mentioned toward the end of the paragraph before last, certainly don’t fall under the category of intimacy, friendship, or relationship. They are harsh and damaging and meant to tear me down.

So, when I am hearing the Holy Spirit guide my heart toward a new purpose or passion or calling and destructive thoughts come my way, I have three jobs to do:

1.       Pray – I need to ask the Holy Spirit to renew the excitement I had when He first led me to this new thing and ask Him to make it so very clear if it is not a thing from Him.

2.       Remember – the power/talent/resources I need to do the thing He is asking me to do are from Him and He will make sure I am equipped with them. He doesn’t leave us empty handed.

3.       Get on with it – I must ask God for the first step of my assignment and do it with enthusiasm and delight, then listen for the next step.

So, join me. Put away the construction paper and let’s walk that parade with confidence. If He has asked us to do it, we are as equipped and prepared as we need to be.

“Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:6 (NLT)

Happy Little Trees



Noah and I were finishing up the day with an episode of “Chill with Bob Ross” on Netflix.

Bob’s canvas was covered with a mix of Titanium white, Prussian blue and Midnight black across the top for the sky, and a slightly darker version of the mixture for a pond beneath it. He had just blended it perfectly and it looked beautiful and serene. Bob is a genius. Everything he paints turns out top-notch and he does it in a way that calms us, with his kind, encouraging words. In this episode he even had a tiny bird perched on his finger while sharing memories from his childhood. He has a way of lowering your blood pressure in just one episode.

Even though I know he is going to do something incredible, when he takes that metal painting knife covered in a dollop of midnight black and drags it right down the center of his masterpiece, I’m sure for a moment that he has completely ruined it. That this episode is certainly the one time he regrets what he has done and we all feel sad. But then he starts fanning the paint out, a little to the left, a little to the right, and continues it to the bottom of the line of paint. It turns into one of his happy little trees. Even then, I think, Are you sure Bob? Right in the middle of the water? Trees don’t grow there. I don’t think this is right. I keep my eyes glued to the screen and watch him as he then grabs a different brush and starts fanning a darker shade of paint southward and it turns this tree in the middle of the sea into this tiny edge of a snowy forest on the side of a pond, complete with reflections on the water. I don’t know how he does it.

As I was questioning Bob, the questions and doubts felt familiar. I have asked God the very same things. I see my life or the lives of the people I love and how things are going great, pretty smooth and pretty easy, when He suddenly drags the painting knife right down the middle in a harsh shade that doesn’t seem to go with everything else, and I start to question. What are You doing? Things are good, why do You need to add this? What is the purpose? There is no way this can turn into something good. This is the one time You have made the wrong move.

But, of course I’m wrong. He knows what He is doing. Every single time. It doesn’t always turn into a happy little tree so quickly, but it gets there eventually. Sometimes even the finished product doesn’t look like we think it should. But we aren’t the Artist. He is the One with a plan, and all the steps along the way to see it out.

If you are finding yourself in the middle of your fresh, seemingly misplaced, line of harsh paint right in the middle of your easy-going canvas, this is to remind you that you aren’t alone and that often these steps are needed to get the result we will really want the most.

Trusting is hard. But when you can remember time and time again how faithful and right God has been in your life, and then remember all the times you have heard your friends and family talk about how God came through for them, and then recall the stories written in the Bible, where we see God showing up over and over – our trust can grow a little bit more. He has a good track record and I promise He knows what He is doing.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5