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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