Faith · Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Progress not Perfection

As you are perusing Pinterest or Instagram or any sort of social media today, just remember this:

For every picture of charm and happy, clean nicely fluffed pillows on a couch in front of a picture window where the snowflakes are gently falling……

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There is a drawer or a corner or a counter or maybe even an entire room that looks more like this….

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Don’t beat yourself up trying to be perfect. Trust me on this one – it doesn’t lead to happiness, joy, or peace.

Keep moving forward. Keep it real. Set your Priorities.

Progress not Perfection.

Faith · Perspective

Comfort Zone

Tonight I led our women’s Bible study. It was an impromptu step-in. Come to think of it, both roles I helped with Sunday were also spontaneous.

bible book business christian
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Could these situations be a lesson for me? Our adult Sunday school lesson was from the Old Testament. The message focused in on obedience and stepping out of our comfort zones to go where we are being led or called to.

Ya’ll… I am an introvert. I struggle to leave my bubble. Spontaneity is not usually my jam.

Besides that, I’ve always viewed people who lead in the church to be willing and able to throw all their personal stuff out on the public table- and own it with grace. Putting my personal baggage (of which there are heaps) out in the air makes me anxious.

Following close behind the anxiety is a solid couple hours of second guessing my choice of words. Then worrying that I might have said too much or omitted something important sets in.

The past two days of spontaneous ministry… whew! What words to describe? Uplifting. Honest. Humbling. Spirit led. The grace extended to me by the adult Sunday school class, children’s church group, and women’s study was above and beyond what I could have hoped for.

None of this ministry was about me. I am just a tool. It’s all about a relationship with God.

Officially out of my comfort zone.

Faith · Perspective

Faith

Faith: Part 2 – Fatigue, Faith and a Flaming Yam

Growth is hard.

In my previous installment “Fatigue,” I wrote about how much fatigue slowed me down this summer. It basically ground the month of August to a halt in terms of activity for me. During this time period, I was also struggling with my faith. Not actually doubting that there is a God – I see and feel so many actual points of proof for His existence – but rather feeling alone.

Yesterday, I taught children’s church. This takes place during our normal Sunday service for 30 minutes and is open to kids ages 2-up. In a completely disorganized fashion, I hadn’t planned anything as of 9:50am. Church starts at 10am. As I dashed into the bathroom to apply mascara, I saw my children’s rubber bath tub spout cover. It’s a whale. On the way out the door, I grabbed a flashlight, the whale spout cover (story props), and my Bible.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You guessed it. I taught a lesson about Jonah and the whale. The story is found in the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. Basically, Jonah knows what he should do. He’s been told what to do. He just doesn’t want to do it and heads the other way on a boat. God stirs up a huge tempest. Jonah admits he is disobeying God. The crew of the boat asks God for forgiveness for throwing Jonah over and then launches him off the side. The storm calms. The crew has a new-found faith in God. (He uses ALL things for His good.) Jonah is swallowed by a huge fish and survives IN THE DARKNESS and with PRAISE for three days and three nights before being deposited on the shore.

There’s a lot to take from this portion of the passage. This entry won’t touch a fraction of it.

Jonah and I have quite a bit in common here.

Growth is hard.

In August, I attended a women’s faith conference: “Boost! Bloom Where You Are Planted.” I donated an entrance fee essentially to cry the whole day. Tears streamed down my face during the fantastic speakers. Tears hit the floor during guided prayer. Tears salted my cheeks during the praise songs. It was a complete TURNING POINT.

I’d spent the summer keeping myself so busy that I was that ship headed in the opposite direction. I was blown about, cargo being thrown overboard to keep afloat, ignoring those peaceful words that I could only hear when I’d slow down: Be Still.

This seems to be a recurring message for me. I get all wound up with the happenings surrounding me and shirk my devotions, praises, and generally start disliking everything around me. My fuse gets short. Patience lacks. I want to be alone. My cup is empty.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here’s where the growth happened- light bulb moment: I’m not supposed to fill my cup. The Holy Spirit does that… unless I’m too busy holding my hand over the top of the cup.

I took my hand off the top of the cup. How? By being still. I am a volunteer by nature. I WANT to help. Saying “No” doesn’t come easy. Truthfully, it usually comes with a *sigh* and a couple of drafts of thoughtfully composed words before I can hit send on the email or text. There’s guilt in the those two little letters: N-O.

By stepping back from some activities, I can honestly say we’ve found joy, patience, and peace again at our house. I’m back to reading my devotions most mornings. The waters have started to calm.

Sometimes God isn’t asking you to do more, He is telling you to do less. He is asking you to re-focus like a good, loving, and caring Father does.

Back to Jonah – His story isn’t over after the boat ride and the fish. He made both good choices and bad after that. Although I’m hopeful I’ll only make good decisions, I’m human. Gloriously human. Thank goodness for grace and mercy!

Family · Perspective

Work.

For anyone new to this blog, a little background information. My husband and I own a small business with a couple of employees in rural America. We work together full-time in the office. Our job descriptions are complementary but separate. Technically, it’s his signature on the “President” line.

Today he walked over to my desk and picked up an invoice from one of our distributors that I had a question about. He starts in on “from now on…” about this invoice.

What he’s forgetting is that approximately a month ago, I asked him this exact question about the timing of this invoice. I was annoyed….

Because I like to keep things light and as positive as I can, here is how the rest of that conversation went in .gif fashion.

Me:
giphy1Him:
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Me:
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Him:
giphy3Me:giphy4Him: giphy6

People often wonder how we can work together full-time, live together, love each other, and still LIKE each other the majority of the time. It’s work. Marriage is work. Work is work. Respect and trust is work.

Both of us have had to eat our humble pie and accept that we are wrong sometimes. It happens.

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Eat the pie. Move on. Live life.

Happy Monday!

Love · Perspective · Uncategorized

Question of the Day – No. 81

What is one decision that changed your life?

**To respect myself enough to not be controlled by others.

I did that once in high school. It bordered on emotional and verbal abuse… honestly, it jumped the line… I wasn’t allowed to hang out with my female friends. I wasn’t allowed to have male friends. I was isolated, chastised and degraded. I was disrespectfully treated as an object.

When that relationship ended (thank goodness high school doesn’t last forever!) and I rose thru the fog I’d been living in, I remember telling myself I would never date someone who didn’t let me have friends, talk to other people, or live outside his control. My sisters and best friend from high school still can’t say his name without cursing. It’s been almost 20 years.

What I learned from that experience is too much to fit in a blog entry or even a series of entries. I also prefer most of the details to remain anonymous. I don’t need to relive that. My biggest takeaway though is this:

To forgive myself for my choices, I had to forgive too. To move past despising that section of my life, I had to let my hard feelings go. 

Pointless Overthinking

What decision you made changed your entire life?

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Faith · Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Tempo

Life here is slowly returning to a more normal pace. Lentando.

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Photo by Pixabay

The kids and I fell asleep on our couch last night. We read Llama Llama Red Pajama. That Llama sounds an awful lot like my 6yr old.

We prayed together. Each of us took turns praising for something we are thankful for and praying for someone who might be sick, sad, hungry or mad. May our eyes be opened and our hands ready to humbly serve those around us.

I woke an hour later and carried my children to their beds. I’m still able to lug my 75 pounder, but I’m not sure how much longer. I’ve got him by about 60 pounds and 12 inches. He’ll outgrow me in the coming 5 years.

Two hours later my husband walked in, finally home from a work trip. Sleepily I told him how nice it was to have him home. I don’t communicate exceptionally well at midnight.

Today will bring about the hustle and bustle of shuttling between swim lessons, basketball camp, a trip to the dentist and work responsibilities. Even this isn’t consistent with our lives 6 weeks ago, but we are getting closer.

Our cadence is slowing from affrettando. Too vigorous. Too chaotic. Like that flurry in the middle of a song, we are over the peak of summer.

We are falling into a new, more comfortable rhythm.

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

He Grew

So many things to write, but before I squeeze in my run between devotions this morning and rousing kids for eye appointments…

He grew. My little boy isn’t so little anymore. He turned 8 this spring.

Last night we attended my niece’s softball game. As I sat in my lawn chair, my “little” boy climbed on my lap. All solid, long 75lbs of him. I couldn’t see over him. My forearms and legs from the knees down were all my family could see of me.

He grew. I swear it was just a short while ago he was snuggling all the way up and fitting against my chest.

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He grew.

My goodness that went fast! It’s as if he changes every single day. He still has the heart to climb up on my lap, but how much longer until he won’t fit?

My heart aches a bit. It’s beautiful and bittersweet to observe and be a parent. My, oh my, how fast they grow!

I need to go run my emotions out now. He won’t understand why I’m  teary-eyed at his eye exam.

Much love today — Jen