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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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!
“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?
I love giving gifts!!! Sometimes it is the small gifts that are the hardest to pick out for someone else. Here are a few of my favorite small gifts to give because I love them so much!! Click on any of them to be taken to them!
This past weekend I celebrated my 38th birthday. Someone asked me the other day if I was 29 again and winked, I said, “No way, I am 38.” I wouldn’t go back to being 29 for anything. I am proud of my age and who I am becoming at this age. It took a lot of work, prayer and medical bills to get me to this sweet age and I intend to celebrate it, not be ashamed of it.
Birthdays use to bring a little bit of gloominess to me. I have always enjoyed celebrating, but birthdays reminded me of all of the things I could have been by that age. You know how it goes; you see a ballerina younger than you and think, “I could have done that.” (NOT REALLY) You wonder if you had of started younger, figured out what you loved sooner, been more dedicated than maybe you could have been more.
There it was; more. I never felt like I was enough and birthdays reminded me of that. The journey I have been on this year has led me to being satisfied being exactly who I am and where I am. I am no longer trying to be the next anybody, I am just being me. This change in perspective led me to celebrate a little differently this year.
This year, I threw my own party, which is fun for me because I love hosting events. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. We had my party under my favorite tree in my own backyard. There were tiki lights leading out to the tree, a fire pit, enough comfortable chairs for everyone, lights hanging from the tree, lanterns filled with candles, tons of cheese, meat, bread, dips, cake and chocolate pie. It was perfection.
As we all settled in under my tree and around the food, a warmth like sweet honey filled my soul. We were gathering, connecting, sharing, eating, and celebrating life outside under the stars in the middle of God’s beautiful creation; and it was enough. I was enough. This is what life was about and it is worth celebrating. Sometimes being broken is what will lead you to a journey of living an abundant life.
I am grateful for the broken places that were in my life. They led me to make some life altering decisions that guided me to a place of being loved, cared for, known and enough. It is a journey that continues everyday to be me, but it is a journey that is bringing so much life to my life.
Our lives are fleeting, they are shorter than we will ever want them to be. When you get a chance to celebrate, do it. Light the candles, laugh, talk , love, dance, sing and sit under the stars. Bring life to your life and to the lives of others. Let’s really live!
So.. how did I simplify my life? Well.. I am still working on it. It is a project that has already taken about 6 months. It was a journey for sure and something I think I will have to continually work on. Let me start off by saying, most of the simplifying was internal. I had to change the inside of myself before I could change the world around me.
I never had any amazing off of the chart talents. I could do many things decently, but didn’t have any super amazing talents. I was however, very capable and could be trusted to get things DONE! That became my thing.. getting things done. People could count on me, I became the “go to girl”. The more I rushed to do everything and prove how capable I was the more frantic of a life I began to live. My identity became tied to being capable. I didn’t like to admit I couldn’t do something. I prided myself on having too much on my plate. My soul seemed to stay in a constant state of busy. I wanted to impress everyone, including my husband with how much I could do. I was trying to be accepted and loved instead of just being.
Through a process of journaling, praying, studying God’s word, studying about my personality and reading I began to rediscover the person I am at my core. She is much more like the person I was when I was young. This girl likes to sit outside under trees and read, she likes to enjoy coffee with whipped cream on top, she loves the smell of rain, she loves to cook and gather people around a table, she longs for deep connections, she doesn’t have a problem being still, she easily saw herself as a daughter of the King, she was carefree, her trust was in the Lord, critics didn’t bother her, compliments didn’t drive her, and her life ambitions were to be available and connected to those she loved and cared about.
I had drifted a long way from who I was. It just happened naturally over time.
I decided it was time to leave pride, busyness, pushing, trying, striving, and exhaustion all behind. It left me very bare and broken. I had used all of those things to try and hide my flaws and imperfections. I felt vulnerable for the first time in a long time. I had to disconnect a lot, say no a lot and embrace the fact that I had been hiding I was not ok for a long time. I let myself feel, I let myself be broken and fragile. It was in that time that God’s light started shining through this cracked pot. That light begin to heal and restore me in a way that I can only describe as supernatural. It felt like sunshine on my face on a beautiful fall day. All of a sudden everything became more meaningful and enjoyable. I feel like my soul has a new way of living again. I enjoy the simple things again. I don’t have a fear of missing out, I don’t feel I have to prove anything to anyone, I feel a sense of simply being grounded. Being here, where I am.
It is still a process I am in and when I get stressed or uncomfortable, I am tempted to go back to the old way I was living. As this process continued inside, I started simplifying things on the outside.
I cleaned out all of my drawers and my closet. If I wasn’t crazy about it, I got rid of it. If I didn’t love the way it fit, I got rid of it. If I didn’t wear it the last time it was in season, I got rid of it. If it had holes in it, I got rid of it. If it was stringy and worn, I got rid of it. Part of me struggled with thinking I was wasting things. ( I gave it all away) Part of me worried that I may need something I was getting rid of again one day. But, I continued on and now.. my drawers are organized and clean. My closet has tons of room. It is sooooo much easier picking out something to wear. There are less options and I love everything in there.
This made such a difference, I moved on to my bathroom. Half -used makeup and lotion bottles – gone. Old hair products I “might” use again – gone. Less, less, less made my life more, more, more.
I moved from room to room and did this. Our home is now a place where we live, not a storage facility.
I plan my days with LOTS of margin and I don’t feel guilty anymore if everything is done and I have time to read, watch Netflix, have coffee with a friend or whatever else I want to do.
I plan my meals out. I hate not knowing what to cook. So I make myself sit down, plan out my meals and grocery shop. It makes the rest of the week simpler.
I clean out my fridge and pantry every week. It only takes like 5 minutes each time now.
I keep a freezer full of chicken breasts, veggies, Sister Shuberts rolls, Sister Shuberts sausage rolls, and a few other things in case we have guests coming I didn’t plan for; I don’t have to run to the grocery store.
I do a load of laundry every day.
I ridded the house of junk drawers. Junk goes in the trash.
I realize no matter how hard I try, our home will never look perfect. We live in it. So, I learned to also let things go. I choose to “be there” instead. Be there when my kid wants to talk, play basketball, play UNO or watch tv with me. Be there when my husband wants to take a walk or just sit and share our day. I am done trying to protect an image of who I am and I am just being me.
I started learning to do things from scratch. For example; I make French Press coffee and got rid of the Keurig. I am enjoying the process of things so much more than just the end results.
We have a weekly chalkboard calendar in our kitchen, at the bottom there is a magnet board where I keep a shopping list that Eric and Ethan can add to it what they need. I have no idea if they are out of deodorant or tooth paste and this helps me a lot!
I realized I can craft a life that is more free and reflects who God made me to be.
I have learned to play again and not be so serious.
These things may seem simple, but it has all changed my life. I no longer settle for a busy life for the sake of being busy, I want a meaningful soulful life. I am ok with not always being ok. My life is more honest. I have fewer surface connections and more deep meaningful ones. I don’t feel the need to impress anyone anymore, and before I was living for that. I feel more like the girl I use to be.
As the journey continues, I will let you know how it goes. One of the books that helped me the most was “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist. She went through the same thing, on a much larger scale of course. I felt like she was writing exactly what I felt, except she is an extrovert and I am a functioning introvert.
I will leave you with a quote from her book that rocked my soul, “This is actually my life, and it doesn’t matter a bit if it would be lovely for someone else to live. What does matter: does it feel congruent with how God made me and called me?”
Many of us watch the news everyday in horror. We scroll through our social media news feeds with story after story of tragedy, injustice, lies, deception and it is scary. We get angry, we get mad, we post things, we want to do something. Many of us don’t know what to do, sometimes we don’t even know what to say. We decide that all we can do is pray. I think prayer is the most important thing that we can do but there is something more. For some, God may call them to stand up in ways that others can not. But, all of us have a mandate, something we are called to do and that is LOVE.
The Bible tells us to train up a child in the way they should go. As I look around America, I am seeing homes where children are being provided for but not raised. We are hustling chasing down the almighty dollar, fame, popularity, authority and glory. But, in the mean time our homes are suffering. Our most important calling is being forsaken. One thing we all can do is go home and love our families and teach them to love. Whether we realize it or not we are training our children. We are either training them in the ways of God or the ways of this world. They are learning by every move we make. They are also learning from friends, social media, school teachers, coaches, and tv. Do you know what is influencing them? When I love my husband and my son well, I am filling up their soul with the good things of God. They are replenished by my love because my love for them comes from God. It is hard to love others when your own love tank is overdrawn. It should be our goal to at least make sure those in our home are full on our love so they can go out and love others. This is not easy, and I don’t always get it right. But, I know that if we don’t get this right in our homes, our world will never change.
We may feel safe and protected in our homes, but if you think our children do not know what is going on in this world then you have your head in the sand. They are exposed to so much at school and through social media that it would blow your mind! They have to deal with it. Maybe instead of getting consumed about what everyone on Facebook is saying about the shape our world is in, we get around the dinner table and talk to our kids. It doesn’t have to be fancy, make a bologna sandwich and pull up a chair. Have the tough conversations with our kids. Ask them what is really going on in their life! Talk to them about ways things could be done better, talk to them about the way God would want us to handle situations. Teach them to love. Teach them to stand up for the right things. Teach them, train them, raise them.
If we really want harmony and unity, then we should clothe ourselves in love and we should teach our kids to do the same.
I know there are many more things that can be done. This is just the first place we can start.
“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” (Galatians 5:25-26)
Don’t you wish you could go back and give your younger self some advice? I sure wish I could. I look back on that girl trying to prove herself, trying to be ambitious and make a name for herself, trying to make everyone happy, comparing herself to others and I wish I could tell her a few things.
I would tell her that just because she felt more called to minister at home than at church doesn’t make her a bad pastor’s wife. I wish I could tell her not to do things to try and prove that she has value. I wish I could tell her that her worth was not determined by her accomplishments. I wish I could tell her that no matter how hard she tries, people will be mean and hate her. I would tell her she is a miracle, that she was created for the glory of God. I would tell her to be more concerned about being a virtuous woman than a popular woman. I would tell her it is far easier to see the best in others when you can see the best in yourself. I would tell her to quit comparing herself to others.
That last one, that is the one that still hangs me up to this day. In my life I have been through many different seasons. My heart as a young person was to be a wife and mom. However, I knew I was capable of much “more” and tried to pursue many things. I was good at business, I was good at leading some areas of the church, I was good, but not fulfilled. I was willing, but sometimes it went beyond willing to pushing myself too hard. I was trying to prove something. Pride was the root cause. Culture didn’t sing the praises of the stay at home mom and the woman that supported her husband. It sang the praises of the worn out woman who was killing it at her career and trying to give what she had left at home. I wanted to feel valuable. The women that can have a career and care for their families are truly amazing, and there is nothing wrong with that. Please understand, I am not saying what I do is right and others are wrong. It is just not what God graced me for. I have a husband who pastors and leads in his community. He is a very busy man. God had to really deal with the pride in my life to show me that it was ok to minister to my husband and son so they can go and do what God had called them to do. My calling was to to serve them. I GET to do a lot of other things. I get to lead the women of Sisterhood, I get to write, I get to be available to help others, I get to play with the worship team and so on. I don’t need a title or career to serve others. The root of chasing down the “more” in my life was comparing myself to others. It kept me chasing the wrong things for the wrong reasons.
I can now be truly happy for my friends who are successful doing what they do. I can rejoice with others when they are happy. I can do that because I know that I have far more interesting things to do with my life than compare myself to others. Comparison can lead to jealousy and judgement. I have learned that none of us are better or worse than anyone else. I am just doing what God made me to do and loving it.
So, if you are a stay at home mom, a working mom, a single lady, a breast feeding mom, a bottle feeding mom, a member of the PTO, a member of AA, a leader, a follower, an inspirer, a woman trying to get pregnant, an empty nester, a creative woman, an organized woman, or whatever other type of woman you consider yourself to be; I would love to tell you this..
Don’t consider yourself better or worse than anyone else. You are an original. You have far more interesting things to do with your life than to compare it to others. Do what God has created you to do no matter what others think. Don’t chase after the “more” in life, chase after Jesus. Your worth is not determined by your accomplishments, how many hours you worked out, how many commitments you have, the size of your house, the name brands on your clothes or the number of instagram followers you have. You are a child of the King. Your worth comes from Him alone. Don’t worry about being popular, be concerned about being virtuous. Don’t try and be famous, try to be a servant. See the best in others and see the best in yourself. Everyone does not have to like you or be like you, it is ok. You are a miracle, you were created for the glory of God, He delights in you.