Letting Go of Perfect

imperfectrose2

In the time in which we live, the pressure to be perfect is greater than ever. We have so much opportunity to be connected to one another – which often results in watching the highlight reels of our friends’ lives on Facebook. We have the world at our fingertips – which means Martha Stewart and her cousin Pinterest are in front of us, begging for our attention. And of course, as Christian women we have the almighty Proverbs 31 woman as an example of how to live. In many women, these things breed discontentment and even contempt for the aforementioned wonders. So much hate goes out for social media, the Proverbs 31 woman, and Pinterest for the ‘expectations’ they force on us. Personally? I don’t get it.

I’m not sure why, as women, we picked up the mentality that we have to do it all perfectly, or else it wasn’t worth trying. I don’t know where it became necessary to compare ourselves to the loftiest of goals or the most professional of homemakers, and see ourselves simply as failures. I can’t understand why we can’t see the greatness that’s out there as inspiration, and allow it to shape us and grow us piece by piece, rather than allowing it to turn our hearts toward loathing. We don’t treat our children that way. I don’t know of any woman who looked at her three year old swinging a bat and thought “Well, he isn’t Babe Ruth, so I don’t even know why he tries.” or looked at the meal her husband lovingly put together for their anniversary and said “He isn’t Wolfgang Puck, so I’m not eating it.” I certainly don’t know of any mom who watched her daughter twirl through the living room and began hating the Russian Ballet as a result. That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? So when it comes to us – our home management, our parenting, our crafting, our wifing (totally a word), our bible studying, we can’t seem to give ourselves the grace to do simply enough. To put ourselves out there and do just what we can today, without the worry that it won’t be perfect, and then do the same tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

If I’m honest, I’ve been guilty of this. I fear sitting down to write, or to share what I’ve done. I know I’m not the best that’s out there, and I let that hold me back from being out there at all. There are sewing projects I haven’t even attempted because I didn’t know I would walk away with an amazing finished project — in fact, more often than not, I put it off until I can’t fight the desire to try any longer, and end up at my sewing machine at 2 am because that’s when the courage finally hits me. There are books I haven’t cracked the spine to because I can’t be certain I would be able to finish them, ‘so why even start?’ But isn’t that how you finish a book? You begin. Each year, there are crafts that sit on my pin board, and my mind dances around how much fun my children would have with them, but then I think of the mess, and the fact that I can’t guarantee that I’ll finish the craft without my chest getting tight over the fact that turkeys aren’t green and rabbits aren’t purple and those jewel things were supposed to go on the top and not the bottom and I just might end up yelling so I should probably just leave those crafts on my pin board and maybe we’ll try it one day when I’m more patient. But you know what happens when I do attempt one of those crafts? We sit at the table, and I explain it all, and I walk my 7 year old through how it works, and she inevitably does something creative that wasn’t in the directions, and sometimes I yell, and sometimes I get so frustrated that she just. can’t. follow. directions. and sometimes, there’s about a 5 minute stint mid-craft that is not fun at all. But she doesn’t remember that part. She remembers me getting the project out, and laughing with her at the poorly written directions, and she remembers finishing it off and having me display it proudly and showing off to people just how talented she is.

She’s already let go of the perfect. Maybe I should simply follow her lead.

In the time in which we live, the pressure to be perfect is greater than ever. But girl, it’s all you. Let go of the pressure to be perfect, and just live in the joy of the crazy. You might blow up. You might burn the pumpkin seeds. You might be late to dinner and have one kid show up without shoes. But this will pass more quickly than you know, so enjoy it. Imperfectly.

When It All Goes Wrong

I’m not even sure where I’m going with this, but I felt what’s happened to me this afternoon was relevant somehow.

BeStill-long

My husband and I are in the process of beginning the process of buying a house. And no, that isn’t a typo. It’s the longest, slowest thing I’ve ever been through. And it goes without saying that it’s a process that requires lots of money. To sit and look pretty and not be used. And what happens when money sits? Money flies.

So it’s no surprise that my battery light came on on our ONE car this afternoon. And even less surprising that the car almost immediately decided to stop moving… in the middle of a very busy road… during 5:00 rush hour. So in my haste to acquire a part, I had my dad buy the one at the dealership with his discount – at a hefty nearly $300 price tag (eek.!) We got everything – and everyone – moved, and got me to my evening job, where I began to price check the part. And found, immediately, that while the dealership discount is usually best, it was most definitely NOT this time. $100 NOT. Yuck. I quickly called my dad and asked him not to buy the part, but it was too late – he had gotten it already. So I asked him to return it. I wouldn’t normally go to the effort if it was a few dollars, but this was a Benjamin we were talking about.

I had begun to relax, feeling as if I had everything together. I had even found a coupon to save another $20 on the part! Then I got a disturbing text from my dad. There was a restocking fee. Ugh, the dreaded restocking fee. And the kicker – it was a $100 restocking fee! At this point, I was in tears. I was more than in tears, I was mad. I said a bad word or two (at work). I called my husband frantically – like he could reverse it? I was a total wreck. I had two guys stop by my desk and ask if they could help. What could they do? I just wasted money. I was in such a rush to fix my problem on my own that I spent way more money than I had to! How often do we all do that??

But, the story’s not over.

I got another text from my dad. In light of the way I was feeling at the time of reading the text, it was just as disturbing as the first. “You actually fell for that?”
I’m sorry, what? Apparently, the lady to whom he returned the part had pulled his leg about a restocking fee, and he decided to pass it on. Forgive me while I put my head in this paper bag here. Yes, I had freaked out before I had all the information. And I had freaked out, BAD, folks. How often do we do that??

It just reminded me that GOD IS IN CONTROL. Yes, slow down and make the smart decision before you waste $100 and time and stress… but also remember that even when you blow it, God is in control. Your mistake didn’t surprise Him, or throw His plans off. It didn’t ruin everything, he didn’t momentarily stop holding you in the palm of His hand or turn His back for a second and miss something. No. He’s still there, loving you, holding you, and watching every step you take. And, in my season, it’s a comfort to know that He knew the alternator would go out today when I bought the car a year ago, and was making provisions all along.

Don’t forget that God is bigger than whatever it is you have to bring to Him.

And try to be smarter than me, and go to Him first when it all blows up…

How has God shown Himself big, in control, and faithful for you? How can I pray for you through whatever season it is you’re in right now?

The Waiting

The Waiting

I can’t say how many times in my life I’ve looked back and seen that God’s timing was absolutely perfect in every way, but I still seem to doubt God’s timing on a regular basis. Like now.

My husband and I made the decision to begin the process of buying a home two years ago. We looked at all our options, and it really just made sense. We prayed and both felt God said we could start saving toward buying a house. We have since made tons of sacrifices to do just that, and while we’ve seen some fruit from the lifestyle changes that followed, we’re still not even looking at houses. Two years later. In fact, for the past month the process has been completely out of our control. We’re simply waiting. Waiting to hear from one person so we can give papers to another person so we can wait some more and maybe we can go start looking after that. And then? We have a 60 day closing process to wait through. (Don’t ask.)

Needless to say, waiting has been weighing on me. And it would be one thing to wait and wait and wait… but it’s quite another to watch while you wait. Watch everyone you know, it seems, buy a new home. Every day, it seems, another person tells me that they are closing on their home. I want to be excited for them. The first several times I was excited for them, and I’d turn to my loving husband and say “We’re going to get to do that!” But about 100 friends in, the excitement has waned. “When will it be our turn?” I wonder.

It’s easy to talk about God’s timing, but MUCH more difficult to wait on it.

I know many people right now who are also in the waiting. Waiting to meet their spouse, or waiting for God to bless them with kids… waiting for a great many things that are happening every day to people around them. So what do we do while we wait? That’s a tough one. I think we have two options:

The first – and the one I feel I’m best at, if I’m honest – is to gripe.  Why God? Why? I’ve been so faithful. I’ve been trying. Why?? Yes. I’m pretty sure I’ve about mastered that one.
The second, is to lean in. What are you trying to teach me while I wait? What is it you’re trying to save me from? How can I use this time to better prepare myself for the blessing I’m waiting to receive?

We’ve all read the part in the Psalms – or at least the bible quotes on Pinterest – that say God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. I wholeheartedly believe that He does. But just as my 2 year old doesn’t need chocolate milk at bed time, God knows the reason that the desire of your heart doesn’t belong to you today. That doesn’t mean it won’t, it just means it isn’t time yet. Will you join me in leaning in through the waiting? Maybe this will be easier if we do it together.

The Blessing of Busy

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We’ve all heard different adages about what it is when you’re ‘too busy.’ If you don’t have time to ___, then you’re just ‘too busy,’ and you need to cut a few things out. Great. Except, what about when you can’t?

I honestly think God has brought me through seasons of busy. There have most definitely been times when we had to scale back our activities – the day we withdrew from volunteering with the high school youth group, I cried more than a few tears. But then there have been seasons when we were just going non-stop, and there wasn’t really anything in our power that we could do to stop it. I’m in one of those beautifully crazy seasons right now.

As a mom of a one-, two- and seven-year old (in a one-car family to boot!), it’s pretty easy to see why I’m busy. Add a part-time job for mom and dad doing basically two full-time jobs in the interim of his promotion, and we’re happy to be able to sit down and eat a meal now and then. All with back-to-school just around the corner!

Ecclesiastes says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Hah, I feel like that ‘every activity’ season is what I’m experiencing now. But really, this tells me that I need to find a way to enjoy my currently non-stop life. That if God has me in a place like this, I can walk around sulking in the “whys” and “what ifs,” on the verge of tears almost constantly, OR I can take whatever moments I have to breathe (hello, red lights!) to stop and reflect on God’s goodness. So many of the things that are causing my busyness are my blessings. Not everyone gets blessed with amazingly sweet children to love and adore. Right now, so many are praying for just one job – and my family is enjoying the benefits of two! And around the world there are parents just wishing they could send their child to school – why would I take that for granted?

So today, rather than sinking into my exhaustion and wishing for the next month to fly, I think I’ll choose joy. I’ll thank God for the blessings he’s given me, and pray for the energy to steward them well.

Have you ever had a season of busy? How did you get through it? Any strategies you’d like to share?

No Limits

No Limits | Learning to Live It

My little bear is two years old. And let me tell you, he is all boy, and all two. On his second birthday, we gave him hot wheels, and he absolutely adored them. A bag with about 10 different cars in it was about the best present he could have gotten.
Watching him play with his hot wheels today, I had a sweet revelation about our God. As he drove his car on a table I thought “any flat surface is a road…” and as soon as I thought it, he moved to the lampstand and his car drove up the side. “Okay, any straight surface,” I thought. Then, as if he was reading my mind and simply trying to prove me wrong, he continued to move and drive his car everywhere. The side of the round trash can, up and down the sides of the chair, over mommy’s legs and down the wall… Then it occurred to me: there’s no limit. And just as there is no limit to what my son can use as a hot wheel street, there is no limit to what God can do. Each time I tried to put my son’s imagination in a box, he busted through it, just as each time I try to put God’s capabilities in a box, he shows me he’s even bigger.

Have you limited God’s ability to change your situation? Restore your marriage? Improve your health? God wants you to know he is able to do all. There is no limit.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20 NLT)

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

Welcome, 2013! It is a new year, a new day, and that feeling of new beginnings is all around. For many, ringing in a new year means hopes of a better year. As I said in this post, we felt like 2012 followed the pattern of a specific bible verse. While we love having our eyes on God (and intend to keep our eyes on Him!), we decided to pick our own verse for 2013. I went through each book of the bible trying to find a 20:13 I liked, but my wonderful husband came to me with Isaiah 61, and said he wanted to claim it over our 2013.

Isaiah 61

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
though they have been deserted for many generations.
Foreigners will be your servants.
They will feed your flocks
and plow your fields
and tend your vineyards.
You will be called priests of the Lord,
ministers of our God.
You will feed on the treasures of the nations
and boast in their riches.
Instead of shame and dishonor,
you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice.
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be recognized
and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
the Lord has blessed.”

10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
or a bride with her jewels.
11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
with plants springing up everywhere.

Well, I don’t know about you, but that sounds great to me.

I can’t honestly say I know what 2013 holds for me and my family, but I do know one thing.
I serve a good God. A loving God. An Almighty God who is a good Father and who is King over everything in my life. A Daddy who has plans for our lives – to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future. I’ll be clinging to that most of all, this year and every year. But a little Isaiah 61 wouldn’t be too bad, either 😉

What are your hopes for 2013?

Our Eyes Are On You

The year 2012 began, for our family, with very high hopes. My husband owned a business with his father that was doing very well. I was pregnant with our third child. And, most excitingly, this was the year we were going to buy a house. 2012 was going to be a fantastic year.

Then came January. A car accident (our fault, of course, and no coverage), a sudden major dental surgery, a few hundred dollars’ worth of medication for our, at the time, year-old son. Our savings account – our future down payment on a house + our emergency fund – was wiped clean and then some.

We picked ourselves up, dusted off and pressed on. Then came February, March and April. A great storm season and, somehow, no business. Ultrasounds were looking scary and the doctors couldn’t figure out why. Our apartment started falling apart, and then it was decided that the company would shut down — right before the baby would be born. The savings that we had built back up would now be spent on our living expenses.

My husband had been looking for work for two months when he got a call from our church saying they needed someone part-time in the bookstore. Six months and nearly 1,000 resumes later and it’s still his only job. Another totaling wreck. In October, we humbly asked his parents if we could stay with them. It’s been amazing, but it isn’t home.

BUT, we serve a mighty God. Our 2012 doesn’t change that. And when I get into a rut and cry my eyes out in the Target parking lot and go all Job’s wife on my husband, it doesn’t take much for him to call me back to reality; to all of the amazing things God has done, and how the details prove that He hasn’t abandoned us.

Like how our baby that was unexplainably small had a knot in his cord so tight that they couldn’t get any blood out to test it. How he shouldn’t have survived the pregnancy, yet he was born on his own completely healthy.

Or how all that money we had saved for a house kept us alive for several months, and what would have happened if we hadn’t been saving it all up?

How our car whose heat/ac broke when we plain had no money to fix it was replaced by the insurance money with one that has all the details we ever could have hoped for and then some. That we were protected in that wreck that really should have been much worse.

How we have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies and that’s so much more than so many can say.

How we were blessed by our friends with gift cards, and our kiddos got a Christmas they otherwise wouldn’t have.

How even in the tiniest things, God has planned way in advance to provide.

I read a verse earlier this year, and the scripture reference was not lost on me.
1 Chronicles 20:12
“Lord, we have no power to fight this enemy that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (paraphrased)

That’s exactly what our year has looked like. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. It feels bleak at times, but God is always providing. Dimples, heated seats, warm beds, dolls and blocks. Even when we are faithless, Our God is faithful. And I’m so glad He is.

What miracles has God done in your life this year?