Unity of Thought, Word & Action

This week as I was reading from several leadership books, I came across the above definition of integrity.  Integrity is the unity of thought, word and action.  I was struck by that definition.  I usually think of integrity in terms of someone holding to high values, maintaining a position or set of values.  This definition struck a chord.

My word of the year is consistency.  As I read this new found definition of integrity I could not help but think about my own quest to be consistent.  It seemed to me the two were suddenly one and the same.  I desire to be consistent in my thoughts, words and actions.  I want to be true to the values I profess to hold, the passions I say I have, the priorities I have chosen.

So, in the end does being consistent lead me to integrity?  Or is integrity being consistent?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that word unity changes everything.

I have been in a very difficult leadership position as of late.  It has strained friendships, brought tension into my home and seeds of doubt have overtaken my mind.  It is easy in those times to want to push back, fight, bring people together in thought, word and action.  Five to six years ago that is exactly what I would have done.  But here is the truth.  I can not control other people.  I can’t cause someone to love something the way I do.  I can’t persuade someone to see value in someone or something.  I can’t force people to do what they say and mean what they say.   As I watch those who say they understood and desired the same things I did, step back, distance themselves from me, I am reminded that all too often we abandon our words, thoughts or choose a different course of action.  We live in a world where there always seems to be the desire to have a winning group and a losing group.  We live in a world where people desire to be right for rights sake, or seek to avoid any conflict at the cost of abandoning their morals and values.   I cringe at the divide that has been created and I know it to be wrong.  Unity.  The only way for anyone or anything to succeed, to grow, to develop, to be true.

I heeded the words of my wise husband this weekend and stepped back from the situation. I was raw.  I was alone.  But as I stepped back I realized my only real choice, the only thing I could really do was check my own behavior.  I am very sincere in my desire to see a holistic, full beyond measure approach to this particular thing.  I believe and value the legacy left by so many who plowed the fields, paved the way so that this thing could exist.  I didn’t take this leadership position to be right.  I didn’t take this leadership position to build a kingdom or to pick a side.  I took this leadership position because I believe that people can come together, can create programs that develop whole beings.  I believe in grace and I know my God to be greater than all that is within me.  To be consistent then I have to continue to show grace, I have to continue to extend an open invitation for all to work alongside each other.  I have to continue to put myself out there, knowing I will be hurt, disappointed, fatigued.  I can’t choose a side, even when others want to make me.  I can’t seek to win at the numbers game, but have to stay focused on the purpose, the calling.

This place I am right now is hard.  It is worth it though, because I desire to grow more consistent and I know this is but a learning opportunity.

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I have access to the Master Teacher, the Christ who knew no sin yet bore the world’s.  The God who can be trusted, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  May this journey to be more consistent make me more like Him.

 

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Do You Need to Go Off the Grid?

Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Blogs, Snapchat, Internet scrolling etc…  The digital age is indeed a blessing.  We have information readily available.  We have immediate access to current events and up to date information of family and friends afar.  Creative inspiration is at our fingertips.  However, with every blessing can come pitfalls.  Those very digital sites holding information and hope, can capture our attentions for far too long.  We can move in a matter of seconds from seeking creative inspiration to spiraling into a depression feeling inadequate, less fortunate etc…   As easily as we can access others and their information, we too can be accessed, often leading to increased obligations, some not really meant to be, yet in that digital nano second we say “yes”.

The week before Thanksgiving found me in a state of mess.  Fortunately I live by my own mantra – keep lots of white space.  As a result emergencies or unexpected events don’t cause as much havoc in my life as they used to – when I lived full throttle, filling every moment of every day.  The white space in my life and on my calendar affords me room to deal with the unexpected.  However, sometimes life throws us more curve balls than we could ever imagine.  Not only that, but sometimes the things we are involved with present to us all sorts of appealing opportunities.  I was in the midst of both – the unexpected and the allure of many good things.

I have found the longer I practice Sabbath living, a more simplified lifestyle, the more my spirit and body react to the “mess”.  The tension mounts in my neck.   My eating habits change and my stomach doesn’t act the same.  I lose focus.  What can be my best traits begin to compound and become my worse traits.

Have you been there?  Are you there now?  Do you feel yourself slipping into the abyss?  Don’t let it go any farther.  I have found the best solution, really the only solution is for me to unplug, go off the grid.  I don’t quit taking care of business, but I give myself permission to quit answering email, stay off social network sites, limit phone calls.  I change my voice message on my phone, I set up a vacation notice on my email…  That is what I did the week of Thanksgiving.  It was fabulous.  Not only that, but the world did not come to an end.  No one called me angry.  No one called claiming an emergency.  It was o.k.

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The week afforded me the opportunity to breathe, to let go, to focus.  I still had a lot to do, but I was able to get back to that which mattered most, my “best yes” tasks (as Lysa Terkeurst would say).  I was able to pull back from a difficult situation and in prayer and reflection see it for what it was.  A set-back, not a disaster.  A matter out of my control and not my responsibility.  I was able to fill some of the white space with the tasks that bring me energy, fill my spirit:  coffee with my girls, brunch with my best friend, a good book by the fire, decorating and setting the Thanksgiving table, and baking.  When I engage in those things that bring me joy, nurture my spirit I find I can more easily recognize my “best yes” tasks.  I can more readily see the good in life.  I hear the still small voice of my Savior telling me, “this is the way.”

Sometimes the plan is there.  The plan isn’t wrong, we have just lost site of the plan.  Stepping back, going off the grid creates the quiet in which we can think, be reminded, enjoy.

 

Step Back- To Find the Way to Move Forward

It is hard to believe the holiday season is here.  Time marches on.  School started and I welcomed it with open arms.  While I relish the lazier days of summer, opportunity to step away from the schedules, I am always ready for back to school. Ready for the new schedules.  Ready for structure.  The structure and the schedules can fill up, and if not careful, the schedules crowd out everything else.

I found myself there a few weeks back.  Not just there, but feeling overwhelmed.  Then a small health issue and time was not enough.  The instinct for most of us it to push through.  I tell myself to give a little more, wake up a little earlier, go to bed a little later, skip lunch, say no to the home parties/social events.  No one wins in that.  Fatigue, frustration, loss of focus-that is all to be gained.

The only way to move forward is to take a step back.  It’s the counter-intuitive thing to do.  I step back.  I block off some time each day for a few weeks.  I have to stop.  It is not until I stop I can see what has consumed the time, the days.  It is not until I stop I can assess the time and the activities, knowing if the pieces fit or are indeed too much.  Those moments are for figuring out what is real, what is clutter.  Those moments are for taking time to go back to my true loves-making the time for that reminds me who I am, the life I have, and how to move forward becomes clear.

I talk about “white space” a lot when I talk about managing time.  White space gives me opportunity to breathe, to take in life, but they also give me opportunity for the unexpected.  When life becomes overwhelming, the plates can’t all be juggled and kept spinning the white spaces become the moments of clarity.  The white spaces are on my calendar and in the schedule I keep.  But spiritually, the white space is when I am still-the moments I quit telling God and instead I release it all and wait for Him.

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Step back in a moment of nothingness to be still, to find the way to move forward.

#NOCOMPAREDARE: My Business

This month Mary & Martha has challenged women to a “No Compare Dare”.  It is a timely message for me.  And as I have followed others within the company, consultants, and their customers in taking this dare, I am reminded how quickly we as women can become discouraged or defeated by the simple comparison game.  Satan knows his way into our lives, and all too often we allow him to take hold.  I am guilty.

I Peter 5: 8-10 says, ” Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings, and the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you suffered a little while, will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” NIV

In my organizing business my partner and I spend time working with our clients regarding their time management.  One of the things we try to impress upon them is the importance of being aware, self-controlled.  It is important to know how time is spent, to know how one wants to spend time in order to meet goals, and then make adjustments.  Life can’t be lived on auto-pilot.  Discipline and self awareness are key to being organized.

One would think that because the above is such a part of my “message” to clients I would not struggle personally with the comparison issue, but oh how I do.  In fact, even just yesterday I allowed satan a stronghold in my life, my business. Yesterday I lost two clients (one lost her job the other decided to sell her home in lieu of getting it organized) and had a potential client decline our services in favor of another.  When you are a young business, still building, those kind of things seem HUGE!  Immediately I began comparing- to others in the organizing business, to friends running their own businesses, etc…  The thoughts in my head became negative and self-defeating.  Did I lose the jobs because I failed to be alert?  No.  Did doubt, fear and discouragement set in because I failed to be alert?  Yes.  I allowed my thoughts to wander and instead of focusing on what was true, bowing my knee in prayer, I opened the door for satan to begin his whispers.  I didn’t resist.  I didn’t keep my thoughts on the truth.  Fortunately I have within my circle women who hold me accountable. In one simple text a dear friend, and business owner I admire snapped me back to reality.  Her words were not harsh. They were simple and straight forward.  They were spoken in love and with authority.  In that moment I became aware.  I suddenly became alert, seeing what I had allowed to happen.  I didn’t just snap out of it.  No, when we let satan in, he’s hard to remove.  He isn’t some little pussy cat, no he is a roaring lion.  He is on a mission.  No, it takes faith, it takes strength and fortitude to make him leave.

My business is my #NOCOMPAREDARE focus.  How do I keep satan at bay?  The same daily disciplines that keep me focused on the truth, on my priorities.

  1. Rise early and let His word (scripture) be the first thing to enter my mind.
  2. Sit in stillness allowing His word, His thoughts to permeate my mind.
  3. Pray for His will.
  4. Pray continually, with all thanksgiving.
  5. Be honest with my sphere of influence so they can hold me accountable, speak truth into my life.
  6. Be alert throughout the day to shifts in my thinking, my mood…

I dare you.  I know you struggle.  We all do.  The comparison game.  It’s so easy.  We are bombarded with messages, with visuals via Facebook, Instagram, television, radio, stores, friends…  None of us is immune.  It will happen.  We just need to be alert, to capture the thoughts before they take hold, remembering that satan is the author.  Let truth prevail.

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Battling Failure

It is Monday.  Yep, it is a Monday.  I had big plans for today.  A great blog post, clean house, some advanced cooking for the week completed, research for an organizing project…  Big plans for a big week.  Instead, I literally got knocked off my feet and my day derailed at 6:00 a.m.

I have two dogs.  We have a love hate relationship.  Most days I love them, but Monday and Thursday when I am cleaning and handling home maintenance I hate them.  This morning, the cute white one, decided to attack the front window with vengeance and bark her head off.  Now mind you, I had yet to get my first cup of coffee drunk.

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I ran to the window, sandwich bread and knife in hand, to politely “shoo” the dog away from the window.  About the moment I took my last step toward the window, the “lovable” black and white, thirteen year old, I guess now partially blind, dog decided to join in on the barking chorus and lunged straight through my legs.  The leg already in mid air was propelled into the air forcing my other leg up off the floor.  Sandwich bread and knife went flying, as did the rest of my body.  I have a bulging disc in my neck which I am acutely aware of.   In a moment of panic I decided it would be best to try to twist my body, as if at this age I have any control, and land on my side so as to avoid any further neck injury.  I have no doubt it looked as ugly as it felt.  I landed instead flat on my side, elbow and knee slamming into the hardwood floor.  My neck popped as I tensed the muscles trying to keep my head upright.  All I can say is that in an instant I became aware of every muscle in my body.  Throbbing pain.  I really didn’t want to cry.  I wanted to fling two dogs out the window.  Instead I cried. Mostly because I had fallen and couldn’t get up.

Have you ever been there?  That moment in time when something bad happens, a mistake, a misspoken word.  You go straight to negative, angry, bad.  The hopes of the previous moment are gone.  Your confidence, your strength.  It flees. It so often amazes me – how quickly I can go from good to bad, how quickly I can begin to feel like a failure, the one person who can’t get it together, get the tasks done, spare the moments for the friend, laugh, find time for the hobby that feeds my soul.  Been there?  How is it I can get there so quickly?

I have battled the pain all day.  Truth be known I have battled the ugly thoughts all day – not about the dogs, not about anyone, just about me.  I have battled the urge to give in, to declare defeat.  I have battled the tears of physical pain, mental fears and heartfelt hurts that Satan so quickly reminds me of in these moments.  But I chose to push through today. I didn’t get it all done.  The exercise meant to help me push back on the infringing age 50 got set aside.  I could have stopped and stayed right there.  There have been times I would have.  Frankly it is easier.  It’s not beneficial though.  No, giving in to the fear of failure, the lost hope, the darkness never helps.  How do I push through?  I focus on what I can do.  It wasn’t a lot today, but it was something.  I made those calls to friends I knew were struggling needing a word of encouragement.  I read back through the cards and notes I keep in my “special box”, words of encouragement from friends,clients and acquaintances.  It’s hard.  Pushing back, pushing through takes strength, commitment.  The pain is still here.  The tear still appear in an instant. But, the darkness is lifting.  The lies brought on by thoughts of failure I are pushed back.  Truth sets in.  It slowly heals, like a salve gently pouring over the wound.

Friend, if you have had a terrible, no good, very bad day, stop and regroup.  Remember who you really are.  You are here for a purpose.  Mistakes will happen.  Falls will occur (let’s just hope not brought on by a dog).  You learn.  You keep going.  It will hurt, it will be hard, but you are worth it.  You were made to make a difference.  You were made in God’s image, His child.

I am probably going to hurt more tomorrow.  And I have a feeling I am still going to be thinking negative thoughts about these two stinking cute dogs.  But the darkness of failure has passed.  I’m learning.  I’m gonna keep going.

“Love Idol” by Jennifer Dukes-It’s Impact, My Thoughts

If you are a recovering perfectionist like me, I highly recommend “Love Idol” by Jennifer Dukes.  It was an easy read.  It grabbed my attention in the first few paragraphs.  Not just because I am a recovering perfectionist, but I am a woman.  A woman who seeks to serve God with all my heart, mind and body and yet feels like I miss the boat all too often.

“Love Idol” was a fresh perspective.  I have never thought of how my drive to seek approval, perform (do for others), maintain order etc… as idols.  Yet Jennifer Dukes’ analogies were dead on.  Not only that, but she very openly discusses the impact these “love idols” can have on our families, especially our daughters.  It’s not just the perfectionist tendencies, ALL of us have “love idols”.  For some it may be more about holding one’s self out as the nurturer, playful woman who puts others above tasks, chores, performance.  It can often even be our service or ministries.

An idol is anything that captures our hearts, our minds.  We begin to think more of those things than we do God.  As we focus, our efforts become more about our ways, our plans, our thoughts than His.  I know, stings a little doesn’t it!?!

I recommend this book.  In fact, mine is on loan right now to a young mom.  It is an easy read, but a thought provoking read. You could get through it in a day or two, but I recommend taking it chapter by chapter and pondering.

My take aways:

1.  God continues to use writings, friends, music to remind me of the need to slow down, step back.  I absolutely will not find God in the hurried days of a cram packed life.

2.  I am uniquely gifted and created.  He has a purpose for me, one He will allow me to fulfill if I watch and wait.  Life is full of seasons, and in due season my gifts and talents will be used in various ways and in differing amounts.

3.  There is no doubt our families come before our service, our ministries and our work.

4.  The comparison game is dangerous and deadly.  Too often, I am comparing myself to my own too high standards, not so much to others.  I need to release those self-imposed standards.

If you are interested in the book or learning more about Jennifer Dukes go here:

http://jenniferdukeslee.com/love-idol/

Not Enough

I looked at my husband through eyes filled with tears.  “I can’t do this any more.  I have nothing-I only hear the message, ‘You are not enough'”.  In that moment I felt drained.  I honestly felt like any ability to extend grace, love generously, even think, was gone.  I had two discontent teenage daughters pecking at me, I had not been able to take care of something my husband needed done, I had received a message I wasn’t spending enough time with my mother, I had not called my mother-in-law and thanked her enough for Christmas (according to my father-in-law), I was behind on laundry, I was out of groceries, and my business had not met my expectations for the month.  The day before I had also received a call asking that I take a large leadership role in a ministry engaging women in our state.  While I desperately wanted to serve in this way, to engage again in ministering to women through a structured ministry, I knew beyond question my answer at this time was to be “No.”  It wasn’t what I wanted the answer to be.  In fact, I wanted to ignore what I knew to be true and say “Yes.” I was disheartened by the clear direction to say “No”.

It was a melt down  moment.  There was nothing my husband could do.  There were no “Sorry mom” statements big enough. There was no deleting the messages.  The only way to say “Yes” was to act in disobedience.  With wisdom my husband simply took the girls on to their respective activities, never saying a word.  And I, well I was left to fall into a puddle of what felt like complete overwhelm and despair.

Frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to talk to God.  I didn’t know what to pray.  Yet, I didn’t want to be angry.  I didn’t want to feel defeated.  Joy.  That was supposed to be my word for the year.  Only weeks into the new year and Joy felt like a universe away.  As I sat there motionless, empty, 2 Corinthians 12: 9 began to play through my mind.  “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect (complete) in weakness.”

I am not enough.  That is the truth.  I can not do it all.  I can not, in my own strength, be all I need to be.  I am not enough.  I am not complete.  There was nothing to do in that moment but to release the emotions and lean into His grace-grace that is sufficient for me.  A part of obedience is not only doing the stuff, but it is the letting go and leaning in.  It is the acknowledging.  It is the accepting.  I am not enough.  The message didn’t need to be defeating-that’s what Satan would like.  The message simply needed to be an accepted truth that would prompt me to act in obedience, leaning into Him, His grace, allowing Him to complete me, to strengthen me.

” I am not enough, but His grace is sufficient for me and His strength is made perfect in my weakness.”  That is the message I need to let run through my mind.  That is the truth.

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Slaying the Worry Dragon: The Weapon of Choice is Simplicity

Worry is my sin.  That sin I so long to rid myself of, yet find myself battling daily.  I can justify it, yet there is no justification.  I can condemn myself, yet there is no condemnation.  Like Paul of scripture, I ask myself, I ask God, “Why do I do the things I do not want to do?”  It is the nature of our lives.  We all have that sin-the one that becomes our daily struggle.

As I seek to slay the worry dragon I have come to realize simplicity is the key.  For those of us to whom much has been given, much is expected.  Yet along with the much, are things, mindsets that cause us to stumble in our faith.  With good upbringing, strong family ties, come expectations.  We are pushed and we drive ourselves to exceed the financial status of our parents, to exceed the educational levels of our family ancestors, to go beyond, do better.  We call it the American Dream.  Yet, all of that places our mind, our focus upon achievements and things.  Maybe it is my age, maybe it is wisdom gained with age, but whatever the cause, I find myself desiring to do less, be less.  I’d like to return to the days of my forefathers.  Days of gardening, hands stained by dirt, body aching and tired at night.  Days of family gatherings crowded into small, quaint homes. Days of giving beyond means and ensuring family and neighbors have plenty.  The simpler life.  Not an easier life, but a less complicated life.  A life in which things could not take hold, because things were not aplenty.

My scripture reading this morning was in Matthew.  The Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount.  If one read only those passages, one would understand who Christ is and how as Christians we are to live.  It becomes clear the weapon for worry is simplicity.  In the midst of the abundance around me, the busyness, the striving, the rush to carry out good deeds in the “spirit of Christmas giving”, God speaks to me yet again through the women I hold dear at Christian Women’s Job Corps.  Women who live a simple life, yet lives complicated by messy families, consequences of poor choices, health issues…

They can not undo their past.  None of us can.  Many of them born into pasts they could not control, inheriting trouble they never asked for/deserved.  Most hurt as children, used as adolescents, and exposed as adults.  Difference circumstances, different hurts, different lives, yet one thing in common.  Each making the decision, finding the resolve to choose to do something different.  Each choosing Christian Women’s Job Corps.  Each seeking to learn about Christ, put Him first.  Each finding joy in walking away from the complicated towards the simple.

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One has walked away from all she owns/had: home, belongings, man.  She has faithfully come soaking up the teachings of the pastors during morning devotion, the words of scripture during Bible study, the life skills taught by women whose lives have been easier than hers.  She has rejoiced weekly in the smallest of victories.  She has taken every word taught and believed it.  She has professed and proclaimed scripture in the midst of battle, believing it would drive Satan out.  She has accepted help with graciousness and humility.  She has found a new home, new friends, new life.  Things, accomplishments, are of consequence.  She has no bed, yet shares with all how well she is sleeping.  She has humble means, yet can’t wait to share. She has seen God provide.  She does not worry for her future.  She trusts.  She trusts Him, the Great Provider, the Healer, the Lord of Lords.

I am humbled when in her presence.  And as I sit in my abundance, clinging to my worry, I am convicted by her life and His words in Matthew.  The words come alive through her story.  Simplicity.  It is in the being, the service done in “the secret place”, the honesty, the letting go, the living life together.  Simplicity slays the worry dragon.  Her days are filled with trouble, enough trouble to fill a lifetime.  She takes each day as it comes, too many troubles to worry about tomorrow.  “Sufficient for the day it its own trouble.”  Matthew 6:34 NIV  She lives the scripture.  I long to live the scripture yet my demons are a complicated life, full of too much.  The too much brings the worry, the striving, the lack of faith.  God brings her into my life, not that I may serve, but that we both might be served.  We love one another, we teach one another.  I share my abundance, she teaches me out of her lack-lack of things, lack of knowledge.  We experience Him.  We experience true worship.  We find each other.  We find ourselves.  In that place, He finds us, we hear Him and know His presence.

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Quit Blaming Your Stuff: 3 Questions to Help You Be REAL

So often we blame our STUFF or our CALENDAR for the stress in our lives.  Neither is correct.  Each of those are as they are because of choices we have made.  Choices to purchase something, to keep something from mom or grandma’s attic, to commit to an event or activity or project.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.  Ouch.  That hurts.  However, it is the truth.  The longer we live in denial about that fact, the longer we will live in stress, in overwhelmed, in over drive.

It is easy to accumulate.  We accumulate things, tasks, events, people, debt, the list goes on.  We get caught up in “the world” and the way everyone else lives.  We move through life on auto pilot or so busy and distracted we fail to even notice the moment, the people, our choices, our words, our actions.

My desire is not to just be organized.  My desire is to live a simpler life.  I want to live in each moment.  I don’t want the pull of the next task or event to distract me from this moment.  I don’t want the mounds of laundry, overflowing kitchen cabinets, or piles of paper to keep my mind abuzz with “you should”, “you ought to”, “you failure”…  I want life to be simpler.  I want it to be organized. I want it to reflect my style-my heart.  That life requires decisions.  It requires honesty.  It requires knowing where my time will be spent today.

Here are 5 Questions I ask myself:

1.  If I bring this task or thing into my home where will it go?  For tasks, that means where on my calendar will I put it?  For things, that means where in my house will I store it?

2.  Why do I want this thing?/Why do I want to do this task?  I am a firm believer that things need to have a purpose-even if that is to simply sit and look pretty and bring a smile to my face.  I am a firm believer that tasks I do need to fit my Life Statement.  Does this task help me reach a goal or meet a need for the people holding highest priority in my life?

3.  Can I maintain this task or thing?  I have to look ahead at my schedule and my space to determine if next week I can still find time on my calendar or will still have the space for this item.

If I can’t answer these questions, especially number 2, then I give myself 24 hours.  If the thing or task fits, I’ll know.  If I remain uncertain then I let it go, having faith that in due season if it is a necessary thing or task, the opportunity will re-emerge.

I don’t want to go through life on auto pilot.  I don’t want to miss that moment to connect with another.  I don’t want to miss the whisper of the Holy Spirit, because I failed to sit and rest.  I don’t want a home so filled with things that bring me and my family joy, but are never shared with another.  If I don’t, then I have to.  I have to quit blaming my stuff, my calendar or others.  I have to make a decision.

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I Skipped Church and Lived to Tell About It

The fact that skipping church causes me great angst is probably something only a woman over 40 from the South can understand.  Well, and maybe only a Southern Baptist woman over 40 from the South can understand.  Add to that I am a PK (preacher’s kid) and MK (missionary kid) and well, skipping church is just about equal to sex, drugs, and rock and roll and ensures a ticket to hell.

All joking aside, I doubt skipping church causes much angst in very many people this day and age.  But it does me.   Always has and I guess always will.  Although, I must admit in recent years the angst is a little less.

The girls and I had our girls weekend.  Dad was on his annual guy vacation, AKA Golf Trip, and the girls and I were left at home with a weekend to fill.  The weather was great.  Fall hit our neck of the woods and it was fabulous!  We attended a great “talent show” of sorts at my old University, Ouachita Baptist, helped with a baby shower for one of our former babysitters and searched for a Homecoming Dress.  The latter could be a blog post in and of itself, but I’m not sure I have recovered enough yet to write about it.  Throw in decorating the front porch for fall, cleaning the swimming pool and changing out the girls’ closets and we had ourselves one productive weekend.  Sunday rolled around and we found ourselves wanting to enjoy a girls day at home.  I love those days.  The kind we used to call “pajama day”, back before school entered the picture.  The kind where no one puts on make-up or does their hair.  The kind where I get to sip my coffee, watch a movie, look through old magazines and listen to my daughters.  So, we did just that.  We slept in (they slept in, I enjoyed three cups of coffee while watching the Food Network).  It was a great day.  We laughed, we had a few squabbles, we just let the day unfold.

Despite all that was good about the day, I found myself feeling guilty.  And well, guilt can just flat out take the joy out of a thing if you don’t get it in check pretty quick.  At first I blamed the guilt on being a PK, MK and Deacon’s wife.  After all, THAT woman never misses church.  Not only does she never miss, but she is thrilled to be there!  Then I blamed it on growing up with a mom who lived in a very black and white world and was quick to let her “judgement” of a situation be known.  In reality though, I had to admit I felt guilty because I am a RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST.  There.  I said it.  Hi, my name is Shana and I am a RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST.  The problem with being a perfectionist is not just that you want things perfect, which ahem, we all no is absolutely impossible.  The problem is that being a perfectionist comes with a whole slew of other issues-people pleasing being one of them.  In a perfect world everyone would approve of me and be happy with me.  In a perfect world I could please everyone and meet everyone’s needs when they need them met.  In a perfect world I can be every place I need to be right when I need to be there.  The real reason I feel guilty about skipping church is I am afraid of/worry about what that “other” church lady will think or say.  I’m afraid I’ll let my kids down.  It was a prompting to go to my Heavenly Father and confess-again.  God doesn’t want me to live in that place.  He knows this is a fallen world.  He knows I am a sinner, forgiven and prone to making more mistakes, the same mistakes over and over.  He prepared for that.  He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for me.  He extends grace and mercy to me every day, every moment.  He isn’t keeping a check-list.  He simply wants me to release my expectations, and be.  Be still.  Quit striving.  Listen for His still small voice.  It’s hard.  And just about the time I think I have conquered this Perfectionism thing, I am hit with those feelings of worry, doubt, defeat.  But when I stop, when I take that moment to breathe deeply and really think about what I am doing/feeling, I am reminded to press on and have hope because God is with me and He is faithful.  I can overcome in the moment.  I may not conquer it completely, but I can overcome it.

Yes, I skipped church and lived to tell about it.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t something that needs to happen often.  I believe in church.  I believe in the biblical instruction to gather and fellowship with other believers.  There is great value in that. I need it.  My family needs it.  Church is often my time to praise, to express gratitude, to care for a fellow sister  or brother in Christ.  It is necessary, just not mandatory.

It’s Monday.  I’m saying it again.  Hi, my name is Shana and I’m a RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST.  Life isn’t perfect, but it is beautiful.  It has purpose.  And some days you just have to stay home and live in the moment.  Full disclosure.  The following pictures depict my less than perfect life and pursuit of peace as a RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST.

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