Wednesday, February 13, 2013

For Lent....

Today, the social media world is all abuzz with folks publicizing what they are giving up for Lent.  It makes me feel a little inadequate, as I am not giving up anything tangible this year. In the past, I've had some success giving up things like romance novels (in exchange for better literature) and Facebook. I had prayed for insight on what seemed to be interfering with my relationship with God, and at those specific times, He pointed me in those specific directions. I've prayed about it again this year. He hasn't revealed something big and external. Instead, , He has convicted me of something deeper and more personal. My thoughts.  Honestly, I don't know what needs pruning from my life this year more than negative thoughts. But how does one give up NEGATIVE THINKING? Really? I will not think negative thoughts. Isn't that kind of a negative thought already?

I guess I can't "quit" thinking negative thoughts, but I can choose to redirect my thinking, focus on the positive, spend more time in prayer and study and Christian action than in those negative-thought-breeding activities (umm, so maybe I *SHOULD* give up Facebook?)

Like all things I set my mind to do, I have a plan. I created a calendar for myself (and I'm sharing it with my classes) to fill out. Each day, I'll have a person, place, or thing to pray for, a scripture to read, and/or an act of kindness or service to perform. At least I'll be organized! In theory, I'll have lots to blog about as a result, but we all know how that usually turns out. Keep your expectations low, friends!

I'm including my calendar for sharing if you are so inclined. Click here to view it. Share it with your family and friends!

How about you? What has God called you to lay aside for the next 40 days? What has He called you to take up? Share, please! I would love to hear your thoughts and encourage you!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Special Treat!

A guest post today from my bloggy friend and fellow Kentucky girl, Kristin! Enjoy and then visit her blog to leave her some love!

“Only God gives us an unchangeable, perfect identity. We can embrace our perfect identity when we’re able to see ourselves through God’s eyes.” {From “No More Perfect Moms” by Jill Savage}

For five years, eight months and 23 days my daughter has misunderstood her middle name.

We named her on our 4 ½-hour drive home the day we met her birth mom. God affirmed our adoption plan and relationship with her birth mom through so many details, including her name. Catherine Anna. Catherine for my mom and Anna for my husband’s grandma. Turns out Catherine is her birth mom’s middle name and Anna resembles part of her first name.

We call her Cate. But we often say “Catherine Anna” in both endearing and attention-getting tones. Plus she knows her initials spell C.A.T. I always attributed her liking of cats – other people’s and fictional ones because we don’t do pets, especially ones that make Momma and Daddy sneeze, here in this house – to her initials.

So when she came home from kindergarten with her name written incorrectly, I couldn’t stop laughing.

Hana. Over and over. Yes, it sounds like Anna. Just one different beginning sound. But for five years, eight months and 23 days, we’ve been saying “Catherine Anna” not “Catherine Hana.” 

I took a picture and texted it to my husband, my mom, my sister and two dear friends. I posted it on Facebook. With each response, I laughed again. I talked to my girl about her actual name, and she laughed herself.

I’m raising a miniature version of myself, a typical first-born who strives for excellence, doesn’t settle, likes to plan, wants her way, and is into details. I wondered how she’d handle being corrected about something as personal as her name, so I was relieved when laughter came.

And it was in that moment that I realized embracing imperfection often leads to laughter, which is good for the soul. Being corrected and perfected is a process that makes us better and teaches us truth. It’s in these ordinary moments we can know we are named and called and known by a God who gives us joy in our imperfect moments.

Kristin Hill Taylor lives in Murray, Ky., with her husband, Greg, and two kids – 5-year-old Cate and 3-year-old Ben. She can often be found trying to beat her husband in Words with Friends, playing games of Settlers of Catan with her best friends, watching “Parenthood” or “Bones,” listening to her daughter’s stories, reminding her son to be careful, or texting her friends. She believes in taking road trips, living in community, and keeping her camera and iPhone close. You can keep up with her at or follow on her Twitter.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

On becoming BOLD

One of my “words” for 2013 is BOLD. I yearn to shake off the fear of failure and rejection so that I can do big, bold things for God.  In order to do bold things, I realize that I have to make some changes as to the kind of person I am.

 In No More Perfect Moms, Jill Savage talks about being a “there you are” person instead of a “here I am” person. “There you are” people enter a room, see someone they don’t know, and initiate a friendship. This is NOT me. I am much more of the “here I am” type: I sit and wait for people to come to me, talk to me, be my friend. It isn’t that I am a snob, or that I don’t want to talk.  I really, really want to talk! I want to hang out, go shopping, see a movie, have coffee. The problem is that I am terrified. I don’t want to be rejected. That’s why it would be so much better if a “there you are” person would just start a conversation with me! We’d be fast friends, I’m sure. But that doesn’t require me to be very bold, does it? Nope, the burden of boldness is on the other person.

As I read Jill’s book, the chapter on friendship really jumped out at me, especially in light of my aspirations to be bolder. If I am a prisoner to my fear of rejection and failure, I’ll keep waiting to be approached and never reach out. If I wait for a “there you are” person to engage me, I will never develop new friendships. Therefore, in order to have a fuller life with a bigger gospel reach, I MUST stop being afraid of rejection and actually become the “there you are” person.

That’s so much easier said than done. Last week, I posted that I wanted to host a Super Bowl party. I have yet to act on that intent. I’m so afraid I’ll invite people and they’ll have somewhere more fun they’d rather go. I’d like to start a small study/accountability group for moms, but I’m afraid that I’ll sit at Starbucks waiting for them to show only to find out that they’d rather do something….anything…else than grow closer to me. So many fears to overcome! How can I move past them?

Jill gives some practical advice in this chapter (well, in the whole book)  that I plan to take. She offers the advice to be confident. I love this quote from page 117: “Insecurity says we aren’t worth someone’s time and energy, but confidence says we are valuable and have something to offer to a friendship. Confidence comes from defining ourselves as God sees us: forgiven, loved, valuable, and filled with hope and promise.” God has uniquely gifted each of us. By refusing to step out of my comfort zone and reach out to a new friend, I’m hiding my gifts. What if I have something of value to offer that mom I see every Sunday at church? What if the girl I work with who seems so together is lonely and looking for a friend, too? If I don’t act as a “there you are” person, I’ll never know, and another opportunity to make a cherished friend will be lost.

I vow to pursue confidence in my relationships. I will reach out to at least one person this week and be a “there you are” kind of girl. I will stretch myself, and trust that others will see me as the loved and valuable child of God He made me to be. I will be bold.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Brushing your teeth while eating Oreos

That's what I compare to cleaning house with small kids. You clean up a mess here, only to find another one in a previously cleaned area. You put out a fire here to find a blaze there. You go in circles. You wear yourself out. You get frustrated. You make no progress. You give up. And some not-so-perfect-moms might even get grumpy with their kids.

Not that this has happened to me. Ahem.

I grew up in a flawlessly organized, superbly clean, and always comfortable home. My mother is naturally gifted in the arts of cleaning, organizing, and decorating. My gifts lie, errr, elsewhere. I can't just look at a room and get a vision for organizing it. Try as I might, I can't make a system work. I have failed FlyLady. If my house ever made it on Pinterest, it would be a "before" picture, not an exemplar!

I would like nothing more than to be able to have an open, hospitable home. I would love to invite folks over for lunch after church on Sunday. I have long wanted to have an in-home Bible study group. I want to have a Superbowl party in two weeks. However, I am just so afraid my home won't measure up to others' standards of cleanliness, organization, and general homeyness, so I just don't do it. The fear of judgement keeps me from acting on my desire to be hospitable.

I'm resolving right now to do two things, and I need my friends in the blogosphere and real world to remind me of these:
1. I will open my home to people (other than those related to me who know what to expect) within the next month.
2. I will spend a maximum of 30 minutes a day on general organization and cleaning, and leave it at that. No more frenzied cleaning jags, shoving stuff in the closets, and worrying about what others think (Mom, are you reading this?). I'm going work on improving this weakness, but I'm going to be real about the actual state of affairs in my home. It's not perfect. Why pretend it is????

You know what? I bet some of those folks I would invite over live in less than perfect homes, too. They probably have a basket of mismatched socks somewhere. They probably can write messages in dust on their dressers, too. Their closets might hide potential avalanches of clothes and toys, like mine often do! If I create a false sense of perfection in my home, aren't I just infecting them with the perfection virus, too? "I can't host Book Club- my house is a mess. Look at Elly's house- it was so neat the other day! Mine is such a mess. No way!" (Confession:  I can't actually imagine the phrase "Elly's house was so neat" ever being uttered, but you get my point, right???)

I am taking the vow to stop pretending. None of us has a perfect home here on Earth! From here on out, mine will be a home dedicated to hospitality, love, fun, and sharing the Word. No more perfect homes!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I wear the mask

"Masks always make shallow what God has intended to be deep. Friendships. Marriages. Families. Churches. Everything in our lives gets cheated when we choose to be fake." Jill Fleener Savage, No More Perfect Moms, p. 16.

I have been chosen to be on the launch team for this awesome new book by Jill Fleener Savage. (More about the book in days to come, or click the  button on the side of the page for more info.) I will confess that I have had the book for a few weeks and just havent' been able to get started on it for a variety of reason. Mainly because I am lazy. Anyway, I've started it now, and I must say, it speaks directly to me.

I'm not sure what YOU think of me. You may think I'm a totally together working mom who gets it all done and keeps a smile on her face. You may think I'm a super strong Christian whose faith is unshakable. You may think I'm creative, crafty, and witty. Or, you may think I'm none of these things and something else altogether. Sometimes I'm really surprised when someone reveals to me their initial impression of me, and even the impression that I've given them over time. Pleasantly surprised sometimes, and other times, not so much!

I realize that, at one point or another, I've worn all of these masks and many more to hide the person I really am. Insecure, incapable, unkind, jealous, critical, struggling, disorganized, lazy, gluttonous, and many other things that I try valiantly to hide behind my mask.  In other words- a sinner, just like everyone else, with my own burdens to bear.

Jill talks about this in Chapter 1: The Perfection Infection. I think that is a very apt description of what most of us go through. We are infected with the drive for perfection, which, of course, we'll never acheive, and then we feel compelled to wear those masks to cover up our imperfections. And the cycle never ends- until we decide to stop it.

One of my five adjectives for this year is "BOLD." I think that boldness is what is required of us to remove the mask and be the authentic person God created us to be. I'm going to focus on being BOLD enough to stop covering up my imperfections with a mask. Of course, I don't mean that I'm going to let it all hang out, but rather, I'll work on those heart issues that I try to cover up. I will work on them without hiding them. Sounds pretty tough! I may need YOU to keep me accountable!

What masks have you worn? What will it take for you to shed the mask and live an authentic life? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Five adjectives for 2013

I failed to be a diligent blogger throughout the Christmas season. No  big surprise there! Anyway, Christmas was lovely. We had a delightful break, but now we are back to reality.

I suppose it is only fitting that I post my 2013 aspirations. They aren't much changed from 2012, though I am phrasing some differently in hopes that I will have a different outlook on them. I've chosen five adjectives that I hope to be able to use to describe myself at the end of the year.  These five words are going to guide the decisions I make this year.

1. HEALTHY- physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, and socially.
2. KIND- to others and to myself.
3. STRONG- in my faith, in my body, and in my confidence.
4. BOLD- in my relationships, with my faith, and through my creative pursuits.
5. CONTENT- in all things.

What are your words for 2013?