January 17, 2015

When you feel like a failure

Sometimes, I feel like a failure.

Maybe I'm the only one, but I doubt it.

So often, I look around my life at all the things that are left undone - the dishes in the sink, the laundry piled in the corner, that little squish around the middle of my waistline. That's when I hear the whisper:

You can't do anything well. Look at all of the ways you're failing. Why can't you be like so-and-so? 

So, I slump down on my couch. I look around at the juice stains on my sofa and the remains of spilled baby food on my carpet. I feel the weight in my heart get heavier.

You're. Not. Good. Enough. 

This is the lie that has followed me for years. It pushed me to run when I should have walked. It challenged me to overstretch and overextend myself physically, mentally, and even spiritually. It set up others in my life as competition rather than community.

It's a dangerous lie.

You see, when we give in to the belief that we're not good enough, then eventually we stop trying. We never finish that book proposal. We give up on the exercise program. We push our big dreams to the back of our closet because we feel like we're not worthy of them.

It stops us in our tracks. It makes us fearful to move forward. We're afraid that the rest of the world will discover what we already know: I'm not perfect. I can't do it all.

In our beautiful world of curated images, it's easy to hide the things that are damaged and broken. We don't want to put that on display for the world to see or (heaven-forbid) comment on. So, we go on believing that perhaps maybe we're the only one who struggles. That somehow, we're abnormal if we can't maintain a perfect house, a perfect body, and raise perfect children. After all, everyone else seems to have it all together.

The truth is that we can't do it all. I sure know that I can't. I had a friend write a comment on a Facebook post a few months ago asking "Is there anything you can't do?" I wanted to laugh and say "Oh sister, where do I begin?"

Here's the thing about mom guilt, fear, and shame: they slow you down, they wear you down, and eventually they'll convince you to stop trying. They'll tell you that you're wasting your time and energy. They'll do everything in their power to convince you to give up.

I'm fully convinced they're a tool of the enemy, and my prayer is that you'll see them for what they are - lies, straight from the father of lies.

What could you accomplish if you stepped out in faith? What if you brought your broken, imperfect mess of a life to the God who loves you and made you (squishy middle and all) - straight into the throne room of the creator of the universe and asked Him to make something beautiful out of the mess?

God is not afraid of your shortcomings. Time and again he's taken the scared (Moses), the unlikely (David), and the unloved (Leah) and brought about amazing things. He sees. He knows. He loves you in spite of it all.

He has a way of turning the frightened (Gideon) into a mighty warrior.

The scriptures are full of broken and messed-up people. People who fail. People who make mistakes. People who are imperfect. Why do we read their stories thousands of years later?

Because God. Stepped. In.

Don't let the enemy tell you that you're worthless. Don't listen to the whispers that tell you to give up. Take the next step, even if it's hard. Do the right thing, and if you fail, which you inevitably will along the way, get back up. Dust off those shaking knees and keep moving.

You are enough.

Not because you're perfect, but because the One who made you is, and scripture promises that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6).

Walk on, weary sister. Lift up your head. Fix your eyes on the Father. Do your best. Don't stop trying.

We're all failures. We all fall short. But God is bigger than our shortcomings. He takes broken things and makes them beautiful again.

So, here I sit, it's after midnight. The kids are in bed. My house is still a mess. My hair is still unwashed, and there are a thousand different things begging for my time and attention. I know that when the morning comes I'll have a choice to make: Listen to the lie that says "I'm not good enough and I should give up" or keep putting one unsteady foot in front of the other. I may never BE the best (and that's OK), but I can DO my best and present it as an offering. This is my prayer:

You made me. You know me. You see when I sit and when I rise. You who formed the mountains also saw my inmost being. You know all the days planned for me before even one of them came to be. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I know that full well. Take these broken things and make them beautiful. Help me to see with your eyes. May I come to know what is truly important and what is only temporary. I am far from perfect, but I am willing. Help me to make the right choices, to pursue the right things. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. I am precious to you. Grant me the grace to see myself the way that you see me. Grant me the faith to walk where you lead and the strength to follow. In my weakness, Lord, show your strength. 


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January 5, 2015

Why I'm not making New Year's Resolutions

Whoa. How is it already 2015? The last year seems to have flown right by for my family. It was certainly a busy one. My husband graduated with a Master's degree in Counseling, our third son was born, and my oldest started elementary school.

Yet here we sit, at the beginning of another new year. It's a good time to look back on the previous year and be thankful for the blessings and attentive to the things that need to change in the year to come.

With the coming of a new year, comes a parade of resolutions. By definition, a resolution is "a firm decision to do or not do something."

I'm not putting down resolutions. They're a great starting point, but on their own, they're not necessarily helpful. I can decide to do or not do something. I can "want to" with all my heart, but unless I have a plan in place, come February 1st, most of my ambitious resolutions will have dissolved.

That's why this year, I'm not making resolutions. I'm making a plan. Without a plan, I know that my goals will fall short. My goals are a road map that will help me get to where I want to be by the end of the year.

I know myself well enough to know that if I try to fly by the seat of my pants, then the hard things will be left undone and all I'll have to show at the close the year, will be a bit more clutter and a handful of regrets.

You've probably heard this before, but the best goals are ones that are "SMART." -

  • Specific - Describe exactly what you hope to accomplish. Avoid vague, blanket goals like "Be happier, get healthy." Instead choose things like "Write in a gratitude journal every 5 days a week." or "Walk a 5k" 
  • Measurable - Is it possible to evaluate whether you've met this goal? It's hard to measure "Be happier" but it is possible to measure whether or not you've written in a gratitude journal. 
  • Attainable - It's OK for goals to stretch you, but make sure that you're goal is something that you can actually accomplish.
  • Relevant/Realistic - Do these goals fit in to your current season of life and the ultimate purpose and vision for your life/family. 
  • Time Bound - They have a specific goal deadline (in one month, 6 weeks, etc)

For this year, I'm dividing my goals into three specific areas. I'll show you how the SMART system works with my particular goals. 

As a blogger, this year I want to grow as a writer and businesswoman through education and accountability. I will do this in the following ways. 
  • Write a minimum of three blog posts a week 
    • S - Write three blog posts. 
    • M - I can verify that I've written three posts. 
    • A - it is an attainable goal, 
    • R - ties into my goals to improve my blog, 
    • T - 3 times a week. 
  • Submit book proposal to agent by the end of January 
    • S - Submit book proposal
    • M - Goal will be accomplished when proposal is e-mailed. 
    • A - This is attainable if I am disciplined with my time, 
    • R - This ties into my goal of being a published author, 
    • T - Deadline January 31. 
  • Spend an hour a week reading/researching/learning about the craft of writing through blog posts, books, and online educational courses.
    • S - Spend an hour a week investing in educational resources
    • M - I can set aside a specific hour each week for education.
    • A - Should be attainable if done after the kids go to bed
    • R - Ties into my goals of growing through education.
    • T - weekly
This year I want to do a better job of taking care of myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally. 
  • Be physically active by using a fitness monitor to keep track of physical activity. Goal of 10,000 steps a day. 
    • S - 10,000 steps a day
    • M - Steps can be verified through fitness monitor
    • A - It is the recommended amount of steps for a healthy lifestyle
    • R - Ties into my goals of being healthier which will help me as a woman, wife, and mother.
    • T - Daily
  • I want to grow in my faith through a daily devotional time. I will be reading Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence (aff link) daily and writing out my prayers and thoughts in a journal.
    • S - Read Jesus Today daily
    • M - Can be verified by checking my journal daily
    • A - Since the readings are short, it should be easy to find at least ten minutes each day.
    • R - Ties into my goals of growing in my faith
    • T - Daily 
  • Participate in a Whole 30 meal plan starting Feb. 1st.
    • S- Cut out processed foods for 30 days
    • M -  Can verify that foods are on plan
    • A - Will require me to plan meals ahead of time
    • R - Ties into my goals of promoting a healthy lifestyle
    • T - 30 days - starting in February
  • Start a family fun night once a week (Fridays). Do something fun like playing a game or watching a family movie. 
    • S - Family fun night (movie or game) once a week. 
    • M -  I can write it on the calendar
    • A - May not always be on Friday night, but we can find at least one day a week.
    • R - Ties into my goals of growing closer as a family
    • T - weekly
  • Save enough for a fully-funded emergency fund (3-6 months living expenses) by Dec. 31st. 
    • S - 3-6 months living expenses
    • M - I will know I've attained my goal when a certain $ amount is in savings. 
    • A - Will require discipline in savings and cutting back on spending. (3 months should be attainable, 6 months will be a more ambitious goal).  
    • R - Ties into my goals of saving/being a good steward of resources
    • T - By Dec. 31st. 
  • Go out on a date with my spouse at least once a month
    • S - Go out on a date with spouse once a month
    • M - Can be written on calendar
    • A -  Our budget should allow a monthly date out to a restaurant or movie. 
    • R - Ties into goals of growing as a couple
    • T - Monthly
For me, part of making attainable goals is to build in some accountability. My sharing my goals, I'm giving people permission to call me out if I'm not living up to the standards I've set.

The good thing about goals is that it helps put a plan into motion. Rather than just saying "This is what I want to do" A written goal will help you take your "want to" into "how to."

 If you later on discover that a goal is not particularly realistic for this season, feel free to adjust it as needed. You're not graded on how well you do. The purpose is to be intentional in growing in specific areas. Even baby steps are a step in the right direction.

You can do it! I'm including a downloadable/printable handout to help you set some S.M.A.R.T goals for the new year! (Just right click and save the image below)

What are some goals you've set for the new year, and how are you going to be intentional about attaining them?


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December 22, 2014

The true gift of Christmas

My dad posted this on his Facebook page this morning and I thought it was a great reminder during this Christmas season! It helps me remember the true gift of Christmas: 

Three days to Christmas! Yesterday I made a suggestion to our congregation for the week ahead that I hope you will also consider. First, take a blank sheet of paper and write the angel's announcement in Luke 2:10-11 at the top of the page and then place the folded piece of paper in a gift box. Wrap it, put your name on it, and place it under your Christmas tree.
Second, this is not a gift to be opened with family or friends. Instead, at some point when you can be alone on Christmas Day, open the gift privately. Read the angel's announcement and circle the words "for you" or "unto you". Realize that Christmas is more than the celebration of the birth of God's Son. It is even more than the celebration of the birth of a Savior. It is more personal than that. It is the celebration of the birth of "your" Savior. As the angel announced,
"Today in the city of David there has been born FOR YOU a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (NASB)."

Personalize this on Christmas Day. Take the sheet of paper with the angel's announcement and begin to write down your painful regrets from 2014--words which should never have been spoken, actions you wish you could now take back, choices that moved you away from God instead of toward Him. Be as honest with God as you possibly can be and write them down. Acknowledge your sin before Him.
Having completed your painful list, read the angel's announcement once again. Confess your faith in Jesus' ability to forgive. He was born a Savior in order to take away ALL your sin. Place your trust then in Him and His power to forgive sin, especially the ones you struggled the most to admit. Commit your list to Him in prayer and then return it to the gift box.
Finally, with a grateful heart, take the gift box and place it in the garbage. On the days following Christmas Day, 4 million tons of wrapping paper and boxes will be thrown away. Because of the sufficiency of Jesus' love and forgiveness, allow your list of 2014 regrets to be carried away because this Christmas you are celebrating the birth of your Savior!
Will you do it? It may give you a fresh perspective on why we celebrate Christmas!

-Stephen Lowrie - 

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December 17, 2014

How to quickly (and easily) etch glass

This post contains affiliate links to help you find the products I mention in the post. 

I've never claimed to be a particularly crafty person. Don't get me wrong. I love to create things, but they don't always turn out well (ahem . . . the newborn hat I tried to knit ended up being large enough for a giant man).

Anyhow. Those days are over. I have found my crafty calling. Etched glass.

It looks phenomenal and uber impressive, but it is seriously one of the easiest things in the world to do! You can have the project completed from start to finish in under 10 minutes, and it is super affordable too (chances are, you probably have half of the supplies in your house right now).

So . . . what do you need?


  • Armour Etch (I found mine at Hobby Lobby and used my 40% off coupon, but you can also find it at Amazon and have it shipped straight to your little ole house - no need to drag screaming toddlers into a store full of shiny breakable objects). 
  • Stickers - Again, I found mine at Hobby Lobby, but pretty much any crafting store will have what you need. You can use any basic sticker that you like. Amazon has a great assortment of sticker/stencils that you can re-position and re-use. My Hobby Lobby had a limited selection of the re-positionable variety, but yours might be better. You cannot use a standard stencil with this because the acid will seep under it. The stencil style will let the letter or image appear etched.(like in the letter "B" on the glass container at the top of the post). The regular sticker will leave the letter/image clear with the area around it etched (Like the name "Sarah" in the bottom picture on the glass). 
  • Brush - I used a basic crafting brush (H.L. once again), but you may have some already on hand. 
  • Painters Tape. 
  • Glass (You can etch pretty much ANYTHING. So far, I've done a wine glass, a casserole dish, a mug, a bowl, and a glass canister.) 
  • Small plastic scraper (optional)
A word about Armour Etch - PLEASE use caution. This is a strong acid . . .it eats through glass, so you probably want to avoid getting it on your skin . . .just maybe. This is also a craft that might be best to do sans kiddos. You will also want to make sure that you store this up out of the each of little hands. It can be fatal if swallowed, and although it comes equipped with a childproof lid, it's better to be safe than sorry. 

That being said, I don't usually use gloves (I work very carefully with it right by a sink), but it probably wouldn't hurt to use a pair of gloves with this project just to be on the safe side. 

If you're a visual learner, I've put together a video demonstration (or you can scroll down for written directions). 


  1. Select a glass dish, plate, bowl, or cup. If you're doing a word or phrase with multiple stickers, I like to create a line with my painter's tape just to make sure that my letters are straight. 
  2. Use alphabet stickers to create the word you would like to etch. Press all of the stickers down completely. Make sure there are no gaps or spaces for the acid to get under. 
  3. Remove the Painter's tape that you used to create your straight line. 
  4. Create a painter's tape border around the area to be etched. I like to leave about half an inch all the way around the text. Make sure the tape is straight and has no bubbles or crinkles in it. Press the tape down to ensure you have a strong seal between the tape and the glass. 
  5. Using your crafting brush, liberally coat the marked off area with the Armour Etch. You want to make sure that you have plenty of product covering the area to be etched. 
  6. Set your timer for 3-4 minutes and allow the acid to do its work. 
  7. (Optional) - to save a bit of money, you can re-use the Armour Etch. Take your small plastic scraper and gently scoop/squeegee the amour etch off our your surface and back into your jar. Make sure not to accidentally lift up your stickers. This step helps your supplies last a loooooooong time. Again, use caution to make sure you don't get it on your skin. 
  8. With most of the acid removed. Take your item to the sink and rinse it under running water. Make sure to remove all the visible acid from the surface. While still under running water, remove your painters tape and your stickers/repositionable stencils. 
  9. Rinse/wipe your dish to make sure you've removed any remaining etching solution. 
  10. Impress your friends with your custom etched glass items!
**Note: If you own a machine like a Silhouette or Cricut, you can cut any number of phrases or images to use in glass etching. If you're like me and don't have one of those fabulous contraptions, you could also try to create an image using contact paper or sticky vinyl. 

Do note that if you place a word on the underside of a dish (not simply inside/on top of it), you will need to make sure the letters are mirror images so that when you're looking through the glass, the word will be facing the right direction.

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December 15, 2014

Overcoming an Over-stuff-ed Christmas

 I don't know what it is about these last few weeks, but it seems like everywhere I turn, I'm surrounded by "stuff."

The boys room is overflowing with toys, costumes, and clothes strewn all over the floor.

My bedroom features piles and piles of plain ole stuff: papers that need to be discarded, summer clothes that still haven't made it out to the storage shed, and books that have been propped up against a wall - waiting for months to be read.

This is my "Quick! Someone's coming over, let's cram everything into a corner of my bedroom" pile.
(Please don't tell me I'm the only one who does this . . .)
It feels suffocating.

So, I sit and wonder - how did it get to this point? What can I do to address this problem? Why do I feel compelled to ignore the growing stacks of "stuff" that refuse to go away on their own?

Here's the deal: In general, we all have more than we need. We have more than enough clothing and shoes. More than enough home decor. Our children have WAY more toys than any one child could possibly play with.

And then Christmas rolls around, and I think to myself - I don't want to bring more stuff into an already stuffed house.

I think my life/house would be better off if I cut the clutter. If I SERIOUSLY took the time to go through the closets, the garage, my strategically placed piles, and asked myself these three questions:

  1. Does this item help or hinder my goals for my home?
    • Does this object have a purpose in my home or is it just taking up space? 
    • When was the last time I used this item? Does it justify holding onto it? 
    • How difficult (or expensive) would it be to replace this item later on if I decided I needed it?
  2. Does it fit? Do I wear it regularly?
    • I've discovered post-three babies, that my body is just not quite the same any more. It's shaped differently. I probably don't need to hang on to that pair of jeans from high school. By the time I fit into them again, the clothes will more than likely be out of style. . . although it may take me long enough that they'll be back in style again by the time they fit ;-)
    • Do you wear the shoes in your closet or do they just take up space?
    • Do your purses or scarves see the light of day on a regular basis or could the space be used for a better purpose.. 
  3. Why am I holding onto this item?
    • Do I keep this for sentimental reasons? 
    • Is it a gift that I feel guilty for getting rid of? 
    • Do I think I might need it . . . someday in the distant future? 

I've joked with my husband that if we ever move again, I'm donating everything and starting from scratch again. (After moving/packing four times in the first five years of marriage, I was done with the ole putting "stuff" into boxes routine.)

Soooooo . . . .all that to say. That I've been feeling convicted that I'm allowing "stuff" to crowd out the more important things. A cluttered home makes me feel cluttered mentally. My kids don't have room to play on their floors due to all of the toys on the floor.

It's all. too. much.

I'm tired of it.

SO, here's what I plan to do.

For Christmas, we're not going hog-wild with the giving of "stuff" because #1) We already have an abundance #2) That's not really what Christmas is all about #3) There are better ways to spend our resources.

My boys will be receiving
1) Something they want (a fun toy or game)
2) Something they need
3) Something to wear
4) Something to read

Santa will be contributing three fun "toys" for Christmas morning.

As far as the stuff that's currently taking up residence in my home, I am planning a strategic room-by-room purge.
  • The extra toys/outgrown children's items will make their way to a consignment sale. 
  • The extra home decor/household items will be sold (and the money put toward needed home repairs), 
  • The clothing, shoes, and bags will be donated to a local clothing mission.  

I consider you my friends. Thanks for letting my spew my mental "stuff" all over the interwebs. I think life will be better all around if I can learn how to be intentional with our time, possessions, and talents.

When it comes down to it - stuff can help or it can hinder. It can be a blessing or a burden. It can rule you or you can rule it. The stuff itself is neutral - it's what you do with it that makes the difference.

This Christmas, I want to be intentional about enjoying the people around my tree and not just the stuff under it.

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December 11, 2014

Luke 2:14

This is one of my favorite verses from the Christmas story! I hope you are getting excited for Christmas this year! I know we are at my house. 

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December 5, 2014

Why I'm glad Jesus isn't like Santa Claus

Have I mentioned how much I love Christmas?

Love. It.

I love the sights, the smells, the sounds of the holiday season.

The other day, the boys and I were listening to some Christmas tunes online and I heard the classic song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and it got me thinking - I'm sure glad that Jesus isn't like Santa Claus.

Don't get me wrong. Santa can be fun. We love leaving cookies and milk and spreading oats and glitter on the lawn for the reindeer. We hang up our stockings and watch Christmas movies featuring the big red guy, but we obviously know that Christmas is not about him. The original Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) did the things he did because of the true meaning of Christmas - the gift of the Savior (and he did it all without the aid of magical reindeer or hard-working elves).

For whatever reason that night, the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" really caught my attention, and it made me grateful.

You better watch out. You better not cry.
"When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled." John 11: 33

You better not pout
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7

I'm telling you why - Santa Claus is coming to town.
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” - Acts 1:11

He's making a list. He's checking it twice
"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:8-12

Gonna find out who's naughty or nice
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21

He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake 
"I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me." Psalm 3:5

He knows if you've been bad or good,  
"God, You know my foolishness, and my guilty acts are not hidden from You." Psalm 69:5

So be good for goodness sake.
"Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins." Ecclesiastes 7:20

Santa's a busy man he has no time to play
"Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows!" Luke 12:7

He's got millions of stockings to fill on Christmas day.
"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10

I don't know about you, but I'd take compassion, grace, and abundant life over a stocking full of candy canes any ole day.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't a "bash Santa" post. We do the Santa thing in our house, but we always talk about the "whys" of Christmas. Why did Saint Nicholas feel compelled to help those in need? Why do we celebrate Christmas as a family in the first place?

Why did God send a baby to be born in a stable and worshiped by some ordinary shepherds? The Christmas story itself is magical and meaningful, and the best part of all - it will never break, it will never be outgrown. It's the gift that keeps on giving. The gift of God's love and grace in the form of a tiny infant. It's a gift we could never earn on our own, and a gift that was freely given to us even when we didn't deserve it. We deserved coal, but we received compassion.

He's the reason why Christmas means so much to me.   


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