The Dream Killer Called Perfection (And What to Do About It)

the dream killer called perfection

There are words that will never make it to this blog.

Often they get typed, retyped and then deleted. Sometimes they spin around my head for a while only to get lost in some black hole of writer’s abyss. Others wind up in my journal, which is where they belong.

The truth is, my writing will follow the same pattern as other areas of my life if I let it. I will try with all my human strength to perfect it, only to realize what seemed “perfect” an hour ago in fact wasn’t. It’s a vicious cycle. And although it’s taken a lot of heartache and unclenching of fists, God is showing me it isn’t worth it.

For months, a fear of failure prevented me from taking a major step in my writing. I knew the project wasn’t perfect. There were areas of my resume which could be improved. And then improved some more.

Every time I poised myself to hit the “send” button, thousands of what-ifs ran through my head like a freight train. Until one day I sensed God saying to me, “Are you going to trust me?”

It was  valid question and one I didn’t know if I could answer. I wanted to sink into the whiny voice of my kids when they don’t get their way and say, “But God….”

With a simple question from a loving Father, I realized this leap of faith wasn’t about being perfect. It was about trusting the only Perfect One. I had to click the “send” button and believe that if God wanted the mountain to move, he would provide a way.

As my pastor likes to say, my job was to take the natural step. His job was to do the supernatural.

dream killer

Friend, if you’re in a place where God is asking you to do something that seems beyond logic or your own ability, you are exactly where he wants you to be. The Maker of the universe is in the business of using ordinary, everyday people like you and me to accomplish mighty things. But the key is this: We have to take the step that seems illogical.

We have to move past the imperfections, the procrastination and the endless excuses and trust that if he’s asking us to do something, there is a reason.

That email I sent? It wasn’t perfect. But a few days ago I got an answer. And in an instant, I moved one huge step closer to a dream God placed in my heart many years ago.

Thanks be to God, I have a literary agent!

I know there are still a lot of what-ifs ahead of me. I know there will be days when my fingers are poised to hit the “send” button and a million questions flood my head.

And when they do, I will remember that still, small voice of my Father, pushing me to take the natural step.

“Do you trust me?”

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory

When Your Plea for Compassion is Met with Silence

when your cry for compassion is met with silence

“I find that people often expect too much from people and too little from God. Only God can be God & people can only be people.” –Christine Caine

I expected empathy. I expected nods of affirmation that I wasn’t alone in my struggle, a warm exchange of words after leaving my heart lying there on the floor.

What I didn’t expect was silence. But it’s what I got.

Immediately, I wanted to retract my words. I wished there was a delete button, but this wasn’t a hasty post on Facebook. It was a plea for comfort, and there was no taking it back.

Instead of turning to the One who knew me best, I sulked. I sat in the recliner eating dark chocolate, robotically scrolling through pictures on Instagram. I retreated to my pit of gloomy thoughts and self-pity until, like any good Father, God gave me a swift kick in the pants to snap out of it.

I realized I’d been looking to others for the peace only God can give. I realized I expected too much from others who were struggling to find their way just like I was.

Most people see only a reflection of the person we truly are, but God sees our whole being.

He sees the imperfections, but he also sees the person we are becoming. He sees the struggle, but he also sees the refined, beautiful masterpiece on the other side of it.

I turned to the pages of Genesis and found the story of Hagar. A woman who felt forgotten. A woman who was obedient to her master, Abraham, even to the point of conceiving a child for him a child out of wedlock, and was then shunned for it. (Genesis 16:5-6)

As she ran into the wilderness to find solace, she thought no one saw her or knew her pain. But God did.

plea for compassion

He not only knew her ache, but he knew the blessing waiting on the other side of it. He came to her in her weakness and her vulnerability, and told her what she needed to hear the most.

He saw her. He knew her. He wasn’t going to abandon her or shun her.

His encounter with Hagar impacted her in such a profound way that she gave him a new name: The God Who Sees.

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Genesis 16:13 NIV

Friend, I don’t know what you’re going through today. I don’t know who’s disappointed you or made you want to lock away all your secrets, vulnerabilities and struggles so that no one can ever see them or judge them.

But can I tell you something? God sees. He sees your heart, scars and all, and he loves it just the same.

Don’t write off friendship or authenticity. Both are sacred, crucial elements of this thing called life.

But remember there’s only one person who sees us completely. Come to him with your scars, and let him bathe you in the healing salve only he can provide.

 

*Linking up with these communities: #TellHisStory

The One Thing to Remember in the Face of Rejection

one important thing to remember in the face of rejection

I remember watching my firstborn get his first taste of rejection. He was about two at the time, and he leaned in to give his older female playmate a kiss.

On the mouth.

She looked at him, wide-eyed and a little mortified, and backed away. I couldn’t help but chuckle but my sweet toddler took it in stride. He knew he was cute, and her lack of interest didn’t stifle his confidence.

We kiss in our family. We show unrestrained love. But I know that once we go outside the walls of this home, those unstated rules of conduct change. My two-year-old didn’t know these rules but at that age, who does?

As he’s gotten older, the tide has shifted. Rejection hurts. I remember the first time he cried after a spat with a friend who said, “I’m not your friend anymore.” I’ve seen kids come in and out of his life, sometimes later to return.

He’s usually able to roll with the stings and the snubs, but he’s not bulletproof. And I don’t want him to be. As much as I’d love to see him never cry, get hurt or given a cold shoulder from a friend, I know he has to experience these things to truly live.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing what God taught me about rejection over at Purposeful Faith. You can read the rest of my post here.

When You Feel Like You’ve Lost Your Anchor, Remember This

One Thing to Remember During the Chaos of Change

The news that we would have to vacate our apartment came on a weekday while I was at work. At first, I was too shocked to even panic. I sat at my desk blinking in disbelief and then on the way home, it hit me.

My husband and I had moved cross-country a month earlier and were living in a temporary furnished apartment. Due to a mix-up about length of time we would need to stay, they had leased our place to someone else. Now we had until the following week to find a rental which would both allow pets and let us pay month-to-month while our previous home was still on the market.

The sheer weight of it all made it difficult to breathe. I knew finding the housing we needed during this time would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

When you make a life decision as monumental as leaving your childhood home and moving to a place where you know no one, you give it a lot of thought. You pray. You seek wise counsel from friends and family, and you pray some more.

We’d done all of these things and felt strong affirmation that God was leading us to make the move. So when trouble came, I questioned. Had we heard God wrong? Was all of this a huge mistake?

I longed for the familiarity of our couch, our bed and the soft glow of the lamp I used for late night reading. All of it was sitting on a cold concrete floor somewhere in storage.

But it wasn’t just the furnishings that were foreign to me. It was the culture. The people. I searched for a common ground but missed the slow drawl of my southern rooted friends. Now, after a month we were being uprooted yet again and my faith was faltering.

When you’re overwhelmed by the chaos of change, you have to hold on to the only One who is unchanging.

when you lose your anchor...

You may feel as though you’ve lost your anchor and wonder if any of your surroundings will ever feel like home. The distance between you and your loved ones may feel like a chasm that cuts straight into you soul.

But can I tell you something? Our God doesn’t change.

His love for you is the same today as it was before you were a glint in your mother’s eye.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 NIV

As I kept making the commute to work each day after our instruction to vacate, I saw the splendor of the snow-capped mountains. I noticed the vibrant colors of the leaves as the seasons changed from summer to fall.

Somehow I knew the God who created all of this for us to enjoy was going to get us through this mess.

A few days later, my husband got a call from our realtor. Her boss owned a property in the area we desired to live and was willing to rent it month-to-month. Oh, and the dogs were welcome.

It wasn’t the house we’d later make our home. The paint was chipping, the floors were dingy and it needed a lot of TLC. But it offered exactly what we needed- a place where we could stay together.

In the midst of hard times, you find it’s the little things that matter the most. And our steady, unchanging God provides them all.

A Prayer for All You Moms When Your Nerves Are Shot this Summer

A Prayer for All You Moms this Summer

I know what you’re thinking. Summer has just begun, right? There’s no need for one of those types of posts. The kind that laments about the stresses of motherhood and all the weariness that goes along with it.

And I agree. I’m looking forward to many more trips to the pool with the kids, long days where bedtime is stretched out even longer and the schedule is ignored.

But here’s the thing. I know sometime during those weeks when the sun is blazing hot and the kids are running free we’re going to need a moment. I needed one today. The kids were bickering, it took us an hour to get out the door to run a five-minute errand, and my nerves were shot.

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I heard myself screaming, “Just give me five minutes!” Five minutes to breathe. Five minutes to think my thoughts which I know are buried down there somewhere.

I sent my seven-year-old outside to play even though it was pouring down rain. The rain won’t melt off his skin, right?

As I was running that five-minute errand to the supermarket which ended up taking forty-five minutes, I thought of you. I thought of all you other moms out there who might need a moment too. And when you do, I pray these words find you and encourage you. I pray God grants you that peace which truly does surpass understanding. That peace which we so desperately need to cling to when the days get longer than we can manage.

Here is my prayer for you.

DSC_0041

I pray you find your five minutes. Twenty is even better. Sometimes this means getting up earlier, which I loathe doing, but I promise you it is worth it. There is something about being alone before the chaos starts which brings a peace that cuts through the yelling which will start later. Be alone with God. Soak in his presence. Listen to the birds chirping outside your window.

I pray you will give yourself grace. Yes, you may yell. Yes, you may lose your temper. Apologize if you need to. Lord knows I have more times than I can count. But after you do, move on. Your kids will not remember your mini-tantrum tomorrow; trust me. Unless they are teenagers. Then they might. But dwelling in a pit of guilt will only make your temper shorter.

I pray you savor this time. Soak it up. Do something you and your kids both enjoy. My kids and I love the water so much of our summer will be spent by the lake or the pool. It is our happy place and gives them space to burn all of that pent up energy.

I pray you are able to rest. And trust me, rest doesn’t mean zoning out to the tv or social media. I’m talking about a rest which replenishes your soul. I pray you are able to do something creative or something you love that makes you remember who you are when your labels of mother, wife and friend are stripped away. I pray you’re able to find time to do that thing which, when you do it, makes you say, “Ah, this is what I was made to do.”

I pray God quiets your soul. I know, fat chance when the kids are running around like lunatics, right? And yet, I still pray this for you. Whether that means a weekend away to yourself or with just your spouse, or it means a day at a spa, my hope is that you will find quiet. Quiet that blocks out all the noise and the voices of negativity in your head.

Moms, I’m thinking of you today. Even though Father’s Day is the next date on the calendar, you’ve been on my heart all week. You are strong. You are amazing. And you’re doing the work of the Lord each day you get out of bed and love those little vandals in a way only you can.

Keep pressing ahead. Before you know it, summer will be a memory. Savor each moment and remember to take one for yourself.

 

Linking up with these communities: #LiveFreeThursday

How Legalism Clouds Our View of Jesus

how legalism cloulds our view

It’s amazing what a simple tool can do to alter our vision and boost our confidence when learning a new skill.

For as long as I can remember, my oldest son has feared getting water in his face. He loved playing in it and being around it, but as soon as water got near his eyes he always panicked. Teaching him to swim had proven difficult. That is, until the grandparents purchased him a new swim mask while on a trip to the beach.

The change was remarkable. Within an hour of using the mask for the first time, he was jumping into the pool and swimming. Both things he had never done before.

With a little help, he was able to see things he’d never seen. He swam underwater, which is something I didn’t know if I’d ever see my child do.

I stood near the steps of the pool and praised God that our son had faced this fear and overcome it. He had new vision, and approached the water with a newfound confidence.

Watching him made me realize how many of us walk around for our entire lives blind. But we don’t need a swim mask or a new set of goggles. We need Jesus.

The problem is, we don’t realize our need. Perhaps we said the sinner’s prayer at a young age and attend church on Sunday, but we don’t truly know him. We don’t see ourselves as a child of the Most High and we spend our lives trying to attain something we can’t quite pinpoint.

Will you continue reading with me? I’m sharing over at Angela Nazworth’s beautiful site today, and I don’t want you to miss what God showed me about the dangers of legalism. You can read the rest of my post here.

Do My Kids See Jesus in Me?

do my kids see Jesus in me

Screams outside the bathroom door interrupted thoughts of our beach trip that was coming up in a few short weeks. At first, I thought the boys were just fighting again but then I heard the word “blood.”

I didn’t hear the calm, take-charge voice of my oldest son who was comforting his brother. All I knew was that little one was hurting, and mama had to fix it.

I shifted my speed into high gear and rushed out the door to see my four-year-old standing there with tears running down his face. He held his hurt finger carefully and lifted it up for me to see. I could tell he’d poked himself with something sharp but had no idea what had happened.

That is, until my oldest son brought the weapon of destruction to me. His Epi-Pen, fully ejected and empty. The sight of it sent me into full panic mode.

The next couple of hours raced by in a blur of the car ride to the ER and the patient room where they examined my son. I felt calm slowly creep back into my frame when I realized he was okay. But it wasn’t until later, when the kids were in bed and quiet filled our home, that God brought the words of our firstborn to mind.

In the wake of panic, I’d ignored them, but He knew I needed to remember.

do my kids see jesus

“Don’t worry, Gabe. It will be okay. Here, I’ll get you a band-aid.”

It was only a few sentences uttered outside our bathroom door, but they showed me what I desperately needed to see. They showed love.

In the weeks leading up to this traumatic event, I was on my knees with the fatigues of motherhood. I wondered if my two boys would ever get along, and news of third baby coming left me feeling both elated and worried at the same time.

Would we be able to handle a third child? I wondered if anything we taught our boys was sinking in to their little hearts and minds, and now our attention would be pulled elsewhere. I tried to trust in the strength I knew God would provide, but I needed reassurance. And in an instant, God provided it.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! 

Psalm 127:4 ESV

As I recalled the words of big brother, they were like arrows, firing against the worries filling my head. They shot down the lies of the enemy and reminded me of God’s faithfulness.

Sometimes it’s in those moments of chaos and panic when we see what people are truly made of. They either crumble under the pressure or rise. They run away or with God’s help, they will rise like arrows.

Though I hope the event will never repeat itself, God used this moment of panic to show me the strength of my children. He used it to show me the answer to many prayers, and the answer to hours spent wondering if they saw his love in us.

The answer was “yes.” Our labor was not in vain. Our arrows were sharp, and getting sharper each day.