Quit Striving for Perfection, Start Thriving in Progression

 

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Have you ever stumbled over perfection? I do it all of the time. Here are a few ways striving for perfection makes me stumble…

  1. I get so caught up in the fact that I may not do it perfectly that I don’t do it at all. Nothing great was ever done because someone failed to try. Everything we attempt comes with the possibility of failure. But, failure is an event; not a person.
  2. Sometimes, when my end goal is perfection, my “in the game” performance is all I focus on.  When my thoughts circle on doing something perfectly, I often jump ahead and don’t spend enough time preparing and planning.  True success is often found in the calm times of preparation. At sporting events, you don’t get to see all of the practices, meetings, playbook and locker room chats. You just see the game. Months and months of planning, preparing and hard work for a few hours of play time.
  3. When I know I am coming up short of perfection, I tend to think of excuses. No one wants to hear them and they just make me look desperately inadequate. Excuses mean I quit trying and am looking for something or someone to blame other than myself.

Maybe you are like me and find that the thoughts and goals of perfection are actually causing you to stumble. Striving for excellence in all that we do is different than striving for perfection. When I am not striving for perfection, I can begin thriving in progress. Emotionally healthy people understand that there is a difference between perfection and progress. They know that we, as humans are fallible and incapable of perfection. People who think otherwise usually end up steeped in pride and a misguided sense of leadership.

So, what do we perfectionists do stop the on going search for perfection that causes us to stumble?

  1. Realize you have limitations. Understand that you may fail. Accept the possibility of that. Then, go after it with everything you have got. Recruit people to help you that can do the things you can not. A real sign of maturity is recognizing you need other people to succeed. If you fail, learn from your mistakes and try again. Don’t be so afraid of failure, that you never try. I can respect a person that always gets up when they fall. Go for making some progress, not being perfect.
  2. Prepare and plan. Educate yourself about what you are doing. So many times we believe the lie that something really good can happen quickly.  You have to put in the work if you want to make progress. There are some nights I open a jar of spaghetti sauce, and that is ok. But, there are some nights I dice, sauce, simmer, sip and smell. Nothing that comes in a jar compares to that rich and deliciously wonderful homemade sauce I make. Don’t get so ahead of yourself thinking about your end goal, that you forget to put in the effort.
  3. Excuse: an attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify;a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.  Both of these definitions focus on a fault or offense. Neither of these definitions have anything to do with taking responsibility. I don’t like giving excuses and I don’t like getting them. Usually when I give them, it is a prideful attempt of trying to attach blame to the reason I didn’t meet the mark. I could just admit that I didn’t try hard enough, I didn’t seek to be educated, I didn’t ask for help, I didn’t prioritize, I didn’t follow up,  I didn’t think it through, I didn’t delegation, I didn’t investigate and I didn’t make any progress. Attempts to mask being imperfect with excuses always hinders progress.

Instead of focusing on being the best, focus on being your best. Thrive by seeking out progress. Bring value to whatever you do my taking responsibility for yourself. Don’t keep stumbling over pride and perfectionism. God has great plans for your life!!

Mustard Seed Faith

You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” – Matthew 17:20

A mustard seed is small you guys. I mean like teeny tiny. It almost seems like it should be easy to have that kind of faith. Mustard seed faith isn’t very big faith. Sometimes, when things don’t go the way I want, it feels like my faith starts shrinking. Much like when my clothes don’t fit and I try to blame it on the dryer shrinking them. Sometimes, I feel like the challenges I face are bigger than my faith. But, that is just the mindset that the enemy would love for us to have.

Jesus says if we have faith even the size of a mustard seed, it could move a mountain. Now, in comparison, that mustard seed is bazillions times smaller than a mountain. So, my faith to challenge ratio is not the problem. I don’t need bigger faith for a bigger challenge. The problem is not always that my faith shrinks, but most of the time my doubt grows. Since mustard seed faith is so small, it leaves no room for doubt. When I am staring at a huge mountain, the doubt starts to creep in. My mind goes crazy trying to figure out how things are going to get better, when things are going to change, what do I need to do, how do I need to fix this and what are we going to do now!! Those questions are doubt questions. Doubting that God will work all things together for my good, doubting that He speaks to me, doubting that He  sees me and doubting that He wants to fix it for me.

Doubt and faith can not co-exist. It is not about the quantity of our faith but the quality. Jesus said it is our job to speak to the mountain that is in our way because we believe Him. I want to be a believer, not a doubter! Faith and unbelief both come by what you are giving your time and attention to. I have a tendency to doubt more when I am giving my attention to negative people, the news, Facebook rants and so on. I tend to believe more when I am giving my attention to the Word of God, pastors I love and friends that encourage me.

Even Jesus was limited by an environment of unbelief. He couldn’t do miracles in His own home town because they didn’t believe. If you have something impossible and mountain moving you need to do; you need to surround yourself with believers and get the doubt out!

Establish an environment of faith in your life, quit focusing on how big your problem is and focus on believing Jesus!!

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Get Wisdom

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There is a huge difference between wisdom and knowledge!

“The wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon his knowledge.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Knowledge: facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

Wisdom: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise. The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

I have known many people that had a lot of knowledge, but not very much wisdom. You know those people that even though what they are saying may be right; the way, time or fact that they said it at all is totally wrong!! Wisdom has much to do with knowing how and when to apply our knowledge. Sometimes, we think gaining knowledge is the answer to guiding us through careers, leadership and relationships. But wisdom, is what will navigate us. We spend lots of time and money gaining knowledge but we put very little effort into acquiring wisdom. Granted, some people seem to be born with an extra dose of wisdom; or maybe it is something they figured out could be acquired and have spent time doing so.

Maybe you have realized that though you have some knowledge you don’t always seem to have the wisdom to use it as wisely as you could.  Here are some steps that you can begin today to focus on getting wisdom.

1- Focus on God. Not only through reading the Word, Bible studies and prayer but also through acknowledging His continual presence in your life. Talk with Him and listen for His voice. Look for Him in everything you see and do.

2- Live Your Life. Education is great and valuable. But, there are some things you can only learn through experience. Life will teach you if you are willing to learn. So, get out there and experience things! Don’t be so afraid of failure that you never try anything.

3- Learn from Others. This hard for those that have become prideful based on their knowledge. But, you can acquire wisdom by gaining insight from others. Read, get a mentor, ask questions and listen to the criticism of others. Listen to listen and learn, rather than listening just so you can reply with your knowledge.  To get wisdom, we must learn to quit focusing on ourselves and focus on others.

4- Broaden Your Horizons. It is easy to get stuck from the view point of our own perspective. Acquiring wisdom will require you to gain the maturity to explore other view points and perspectives. Do your research, and even listen to opposing opinions. It can be tough but it helps you gain wisdom.

5- Be the Student. Always continue to learn and grow. Sometimes as we gain knowledge, we always want to be the teacher. We may even convince ourselves that we just want to help people, when in truth; we want to show people what we know. We get stuck in teacher mode. Be a life long student of the wise. People are more interested in who you are and why you care, than what you know.

“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” – Proverbs 4:6-7

The beginning of wisdom is to “get wisdom”, so get after it!

From Pain to Peace to Purpose

I love how God always has redemptive plans for us. For myself, I have noticed that when there is pain, it leads to peace which leads to purpose. There is always a journey to be experiencing. A few months ago I wrote about the journey I was on to simplicity.  Recently, I wrote about the changes that came about in my life in 2016.

I was experiencing pain which led to me to simplicity and peace. I discovered some things about myself that God wanted to change and I grew a lot. Simplifying and organizing our home was fun and helped get all of our lives in order. However, I got to the place where I felt healthy in all areas again and a pulling towards getting back to work. Not that I wasn’t working, but getting more involved in some way that would be healthy and use my strengths. My background is business, which I love. Balancing that and making sure I still get to care for those I love has always been the struggle for me. However, through all of this I have learned that it was such a struggle because I was striving to prove something. Now, I feel that I don’t have to prove anything, I just want to be used for what I am good at. But, I wanted to make sure that whatever move I made, it pleased God.

Just a few days later, my husband let me know he could really use my attention to detail and leadership more at church. When your husband seems to be asking for you to help.. it must be God. Just kidding!! However, I felt like it was the confirmation I needed. So, we had some very real conversations about what that would look like. I agreed to try to be more vulnerable with him and he agreed to hold me more accountable. I don’t want to fall back into old habits of trying to prove my capability and loading my plate with too much.

However, I can BE the girl who works hard to get stuff done that also has deep connections with others, enjoys cooking and gathering people around a table, and still has plenty of time to sit under my tree. I am flawed and going back into this season pruned of the pride that tries to hide those flaws. I am still enjoying this journey with you all and just wanted to give you an update. I will also be continuing to write on this blog. I love hearing from you all and love all of the encouragement I get from you.  It is good to know in this great big world, there are people who struggle with the same things that we do! Just remember, pain can lead to peace, which can lead to purpose if we let God use it.

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Marriage Monday: Protective Boundaries

 

image1.JPGMy husband and I have a lot of boundaries in place to protect our marriage. Some of them seem strict to some people. But, in a world where everywhere I turn people I know are getting a divorce or news from an affair is coming out, it doesn’t seem quite so strict.

Recently we were talking with some friends about marriage boundaries: the husband was telling us that a lady he works with just doesn’t understand what the big deal about riding together in a car is. Often they have business lunches with a group and she doesn’t think it is a big deal that they ride together. He has tried to explain that is just an agreement he and his wife have in place, they won’t ride in a car with the opposite sex alone.

Now, it didn’t seem nuts to us. My husband and I have the same boundary. We don’t do car rides or meetings alone with the opposite sex. This means coffee meetings, lunches, or even counseling sessions. Why? Our marriage is the most important relationship we have and we believe in protecting it. My friendships are important to me but not as important as my relationship with my husband. Most people don’t go looking for an affair, it just happens.

It starts as texting, riding to lunch together, meeting for coffee and becoming too comfortable with each other. Also, we don’t want it to even look like we are doing something that could potentially cause division in our marriage. I would prefer to risk offending someone else than to break a  boundary that I have set with my husband. I believe that men and women can be friends. I have some men in my life that are like brothers to me, but they are also friends of my husband; and they are for our marriage.  Friendships can flourish as long as there are healthy boundaries. There are many friendships throughout the years that have had the potential to ruin our marriage and very strong boundaries had to be established.

 

The world may see it as weird, but I see it as putting the most important relationship first and making efforts to affair proof our marriage. It is not jealousy. Neither my husband nor myself are jealous people. We have just witnessed far too many people we know live through the heartbreak of affairs that could have been avoided.

What about you? What boundaries do you have in place to protect your marriage? What boundaries do you need to consider putting in place to protect your marriage?

 

 

6 Ways to Keep Seeds from Turning into Weeds

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Recently, my husband said something that I didn’t quite like. It just kind of hit me wrong, but wasn’t a very big deal: so, I didn’t say anything. However, a seed had been planted. Later on, it began to bother me a little more. As I thought about that thing, it bothered me more. When I thought about that thing again, I was really bothered. That seed had grown into a weed that I had been watering and nurturing all day. Finally, in the bed that night I told him that I didn’t like what he had said earlier in the day and it really bothered me.

As we tend to do when trying to grow weeds, I had taken what he said very wrong. Once he explained it to me, I totally got what he was saying and what he had meant. Thankfully, that weed had not gotten so big that it was hard to dig up. I guess I wouldn’t be stealing the covers from him after all that night.

When a small seed is planted and not quickly uprooted it is not long before we start jumping to conclusions. We assume, we ponder, we accuse, we think negative thoughts and before you know it we are dealing with a giant weed. A weed that is sucking all of the nutrients from the good seeds that have been planted. A weed that is so big it is blocking our view, stopping us from seeing the right perspective. Oh how the enemy loves weed seeds. They wreck relationships of all kinds; loved ones, co-workers, bosses, employees, and friends. They also reek havoc on our emotions. Weeds cause anxiety, stress and keep us distracted from what we should be doing.

Some weed seeds are self inflicted. At times, we all listen to negative self talk or the the wrong voices. Some of the biggest weeds I have dealt with came out of my own negative inner voice.

What if we could throw out those negative seeds before they took root and started to grow? Here are some steps to help you get rid of that seed before it becomes a weed!!

  1. Seek Clarity! If you are confused by something, it rubs you the wrong way or you don’t quite understand; speak up!!! Get some clarity! It is on you if you are misunderstanding something and don’t speak up. This leaves lots of room for jumping to conclusions and that will quickly lead to a weed.
  2. Face Your Fears. A lot of stinking thinking seeds are planted out of fear. We are afraid of what people are thinking, we are afraid of failing or we are afraid of being rejected. We need to stop and evaluate the reason why we are feeling the way we are. If we are having these thoughts out of fear, we need to stop and ask God to make us more aware of His presence and who we are in Him.
  3. Prayer – I can’t express how important prayer is! Confessing our thoughts to God and asking Him to adjust our perspective is the quickest way to throw out a bad seed. Ask God to heal your thought process and give you wisdom!!
  4. Discipline – It make take time. A lot of us have trained our thoughts to be negative.  We must understand that we can’t always stop a thought, but we can change it if we are disciplined enough. For example, we may think, “what if this person doesn’t like me?”  We have to reroute that thought with, “I am going to be the best me I can be,  if this person doesn’t like me, I will be fine. God is on my side.”  Chasing away that negative thought with a positive one will quickly uproot a seed trying to become a weed. The more you replace negative thoughts with more positive ones, the more you will rewire your brain to respond that way. You are diluting the negative with positive. This will take discipline, but successful people are disciplined.
  5. Respond Instead of React: Understand that there will be conflict in your life. Instead of jumping to conclusions and reacting, choose to respond. Handling conflict well will help you avoid giant weeds of dissension!
  6. Above all...

“Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:6 (The Message)

What are some ways you keep seeds from turning into weeds?

Words, Goals and Whiplash

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Well, the pages of 2016 are closed! I have kind of cracked up at all of the posts about everyone being so excited that 2016 was over: like all of the messiness in our lives was some how connected to the calendar year. However, I do understand. I love the freshness and new possibilities that come with the new year.

For me personally, the mood swings of 2016 practically gave me whiplash. It was a year that we faced some of the hardest moments of our lives. I don’t think I have cried more tears in my life than I did in 2016. But, it was a year that had some of the best moments of our lives as well.  Everything the enemy meant to destroy us, God used it to bring good to us and grow us. Some of the messiness that came our way made us make some changes in our lives.  When everything gets a little wrecked, that doesn’t mean we have to be a wreck! This year, when bad things happen or things don’t go my way, I am going to try and stay open to what God is doing with us, rather than focus on how it is making me feel. 2016 had some tragic moments, but I don’t ever want to forget the good that God brought to me in 2016.

This past year, I stepped back and took some time to rest, renew and begin a journey of simplicity. It was hard, but much needed. Sometimes, in order to focus on what God has for you, you have to step back and just spend time with Him.  I had a lot of voices in my head that were competing with the Voice of God. When we are stretched too thin, those other voices seem to get louder and louder. The voices that were distracting me from what God has called me to had gotten really loud. They were also very confusing and chaotic. Voices that cause division or make you want to isolate yourself are not from God. (Hindsight is always 20/20!) Yes, alone time with God is good, but there is a line between being pulled away to be with God and isolating yourself. I have learned a lot about that this past year! I am also working on recognizing those distracting voices so that I can shut them down before they get out of hand.

There were moments I wanted to pretend like it was my husband called to ministry and not me. I wanted out and away from the fish bowl of ministry. But, God gently whispered to my heart who I was and why He called me. He lovingly and graciously showed me some things in my life that needed to change and some issues that needed to be dealt with so that these attacks from the enemy wouldn’t wreck me. He restored my heart, my love for people and my love for the church. Only He could of done that. He showed me some things that I had deemed as important that were not. He showed me that I was carrying some burdens that were not mine to carry.  He led me to being confident in who He is; not who I am or who people think I am. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned in 2016, but I hope not to have to repeat them again.

So, my goals for the new year:

  1. I will be starting each morning with coffee and the One Year Bible. ( No, not on my phone or computer but an actual one year Bible. You guys know I am old school.)
  2. I will be writing MANY more handwritten notes. I love stationary and will be sending more letters, notes and cards. Social media has become the lazy way out of saying we are thinking of someone. Though, it is a good tool, I want to go a little more out of my way.
  3. I will not be on social media, games on my phone, on my computer or anything else like that past 7pm.
  4. I will be more open and vulnerable with my husband when the voices of dissension start up in my head. He is my spiritual accountability, but sometimes I don’t go to him because of the huge burden I know he has leading a church. However, talking through issues and being there for one another is a part of marriage. I don’t like to be vulnerable, but I am working on it!
  5. I am going to celebrate everything!!!
  6. Read more, write more, and live more.

My “word” for 2017 is BE. 

No striving, second guessing, doubting, backtracking, struggling, compromising, or withdrawing. Instead, I will just BE. I will BE who God made me to BE. I will BE me but hopefully a better version of me. I will just BE.