What if I Fail?

Have you ever made up your mind that you were going to do something, only to get halfway there and lose all motivation? I would guess we’ve all been there. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve been there MANY times.  So, what in the world should we do with that sense of failure?

Get up! Dust yourself off. And try again.

Here’s what I mean. At the beginning of January, I made 2 goals for myself. Both goals related to my word of the year INTENTIONAL. I wrote down the goals, asked friends to help me stay accountable to them. Then, two weeks into the month, life happened and I fell off the wagon. I allowed myself to take a day off from the goals. Then, one day turned into two. Two days turned into a week. The next thing I knew, it was the end of January and I had failed.

But guess what…my friends didn’t fail me. My God didn’t fail me. I failed. I can’t blame anyone else. Sure, I want to blame it on the 2 year molars causing my son to wake super early several mornings, throwing me off my routine. Or on the fact that the exercises HURT and I was in pain and needed a break. Or on all those names in the geneological listings of the Old Testament…those are hard to read! But the blame doesn’t fall on any of those things. The blame falls on me.

So, what am I going to do? I’m going to get up, dust myself off, and try again! Tomorrow is a new day. It is a new opportunity to be intentional with my time. And God promises me in His word that every morning, His mercies are renewed.

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23 (ESV)

Every day, no matter what yesterday held, His mercies are new. No. Matter. What. He is faithful, even when I am not. He loves me, even when I am unlovely. He is merciful, even when I am undeserving of His mercy.

If you’ve failed at your January goals, don’t give up on your 2015 goals. Remember, tomorrow is a new day. You have a fresh, new slate to start over, to try again. Grab hold of that chance, and embrace it. Pray for wisdom, ask your friends to help you, and start anew. Will you fail again? Probably. I will too. And that’s OK. Every time we fail, we have a chance to try again, to learn something, to grow. The only time we truly fail is when we give up.

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Intentional – My Word for 2014

As I sat Tuesday night reflecting on the amazing year that 2013 was for my family and me, I also had to think about the things I wish I had done differently. Sure, I could have changed things at any point throughout the year, but as I thought about all the good and bad of last year, I knew I had to make some changes this year. When I wrote out my goals, I noticed a common theme – being intentional.
I’ve decided I’m done just floating through my days, feeling frustrated at my lack of accomplishment or just being in the room with someone, but not really being WITH them. So, my goals for this year are to be more intentional about the ways I spend my time.

I want to be INTENTIONAL about spending quality time with my husband. Not just sitting next to him on the couch while we both play on our phones or watch a movie together…but talking to him, loving him the way he deserves…being the wife God designed me to be (and yes, I’m sure that means submitting more).

I want to be INTENTIONAL about the time I spend with my children. I spend so many precious moments with them, sitting in the same room, but not really doing anything WITH them. I want to show them how much they mean to me by playing with them, reading to them, teaching them.

I want to be INTENTIONAL about growing my relationship with God. Spending time in prayer and reading the Bible. Studying His word – on my own and with others. Diving deeper in my commitment and surrender to His will.

I want to be INTENTIONAL about reading. I once set a goal to read 2 books every month – 1 fiction and 1 nonfiction. I think I made it 2 months before I gave up. This year, I just want to finish every book that I start. I haven’t set a certain number of books because I know that life with little ones sometimes gets in the way…but I love to read and I want to get back into the habit of readin often.

I want to be INTENTIONAL about making my house a home. I HATE to clean…actually, hate may not even be a strong enough word. I’ve never understood people who say that cleaning their house is a stress relieving activity. However, having a dirty, messy, cluttered house is definitely NOT stress relieving! No…I don’t want my house to be spotless, model-home clean. But I do want it to be clean enough that I am not embarrassed to invite people over. I want to keep up with the dishes in the sink, to spend a little time each day picking up the messes.

I’m going to pick 1-2 of these goals to really focus on each month this year. I’m going to make living my life – participating, not just watching – a priority this year.

What are you being intentional about this year? What is your word for the 2014?

Pondering…

So, I’m sitting here tonight thinking about so many things. After spending time with a group of dreamers over the weekend, hearing stories of people who are working hard to make their dreams a reality – whether it be jobs, hobbies, or something else. And I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve lost touch with my own dreams. You see, about 10 years ago, while working as an elementary teacher, God began to break my heart for the broken, hurting families in my world. I saw children who had parents who loved them, but didn’t know the right ways to show their love. Parents who were so emotionally and mentally hurt by the people in their lives that they took it out on their children or spouse. I saw parents who could never find the good things about their children. And I saw parents who could never see things about their children that needed to be corrected. To be honest, I really didn’t see a lot of healthy, happy families. Sure – there were a few in each class…but the vast majority of families that I saw were dealing with some major hurts.

It was at that time that God began to put a dream in my heart. A dream to help families. To help children. Parents. Spouses. How was I, a single, broke elementary teacher, supposed to help these people?? I knew I didn’t have the right resources. I didn’t have the money. I didn’t have experience as a parent or in a marriage. But what I did have was Jesus…and this dream to help.

Fast forward a couple of years…I quit my teaching job, got married, and kind of forgot about my dream in the process. Then, we started our own family, and I became engrossed in all things Stay-at-Home-Mom. And, I grew further away from my dream.

Then, about 2 1/2 years ago, my husband rediscovered his own dreams. He began writing, encouraging others, and finding the things that truly fulfilled him. He started introducing me to other dreamers…and little flickers of my own dream started to resurface. And that’s where I am tonight. Really starting to look at my dream. Trying to figure out what exactly it is that I want to do with my life. Love my family? YES! Be an awesome wife and mom? Absolutely. But lose myself in the process? No way!! I know God is calling me to help others…but what, exactly, does that mean? Am I to go back to school for a Master’s degree? Start a counseling business? Or am I supposed to write? Simply be a friend to a woman in need of encouragement? Or something totally different?

These are the questions that I’m pondering tonight as I start to look at what I want to do once I’m able to leave my baby at home for more than a couple of hours before he needs fed.

Why I Need Community

Photo by Páris Neto (Creative Commons)

Community. What is it? Do we need it? Why?

To me, community is a group of people with whom I can truly be myself. It is that small circle of friends where we can share our deepest hurts, our greatest joys, our smallest details, and our biggest mistakes…all in the safety that comes from knowing we’ll be loved no matter what.

Do we need community? My answer to that question is a resounding YES! I believe every single person needs community in their lives. Why? Because we all need to know that no matter what happens, we are loved, valued, and encouraged. We need a place where we can be true to our broken, imperfect selves.

I wear a mask that says I have it all together. I am a Christ-follower, wife, mom, daughter, friend, sister. I am a Mary Kay Consultant, former teacher and tutor, dreamer, blogger, family chef, and potty-trainer. I want people to think all of these areas of my life are GREAT! Unfortunately, reality paints a different picture. My house is a mess, my laundry is piled high waiting to be folded. My doubts and fears stop me from pursuing my dream. I yell and cry when I’m angry, clam up when I’m sad. I am far from perfect…and I’d venture to guess you are, too.

This is why community is so important! My community of close friends knows my imperfections, and they love me anyway. They know my strengths, and support me as I use them to serve God and others. These friends also know my weaknesses, and encourage me as I step out of my comfort zones and do things I’m not necessarily good at. They are people I can turn to when I have messed up. They may even be the ones to point out my brokenness, and that’s OK because I know they will also be the people used by God to help put me back together.

Community does not require us to be perfect, it simply requires that we be present. 

What about you…why is community important in your life?

Take a Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Photo by eleannab (Creative Commons)

I’m an introvert. ISFP according to this free test. I actually scored really heavily on the Introvert side of the scale (74%), so doing anything with people I don’t know is really hard for me. Sometimes, though, it can be a really good thing for me to take a step out of my comfort zone. This past weekend, I took a HUGE step by going to the (in)courage (in)RealLife meet-up (also known as (in)RL) in Nashville. When I left my house, I did not know a single other person who would be there, even though my hubby knew of 2 of his blogging friends who were also going.

The (in)RL event was on Friday and Saturday. Friday was a webcast, shown 4 times throughout the day, and Saturday’s event was the meet-up. As much as I tried, my schedule did not allow me to watch the webcast during any of the 4 showings on Friday (thankfully they kept the link up through the weekend). I never did get to watch all of the webcast because our internet decided to be extra S.L.O.W. on Saturday when I finally had the chance to watch. Because of that, I am so thankful that Dayspring will be releasing a DVD of all the videos and a companion workbook in a couple of weeks (you can sign up to be notified when they’re available here).

On Saturday evening, I left the house with a lot of anxiety about the night. It was my understanding that Nashville had the largest of the (in)RL meet-ups worldwide. Would I meet people? Would I make a total fool out of myself trying to talk to a stranger? Was there going to be forced conversation (you know the type: Find 4 people you don’t know and ask them these 3 questions.)? Or, would it be easy to meet people, find things to talk about, and feel comfortable? When I found the church where the meet-up was taking place, I parked & got out of my car, not knowing which door I should go in. Thankfully, I found another woman wandering, obviously looking for the (in)RL event (the boxes of donuts she carried were my clue!). Together, we found the right door, and conversation started easily. I ended up meeting 2 other women (both of whom my hubby had told me would be there).

I admit it took me the first 30-45 minutes to really feel comfortable in the room full of women that I didn’t know, but once I let my guard down, God really used the night to speak to me about community. In my next post, I’ll explore the importance of community in our lives.

In the mean time, what does the word “Community” mean to you (other than a TV show)?

The Most Awkward Sales Pitch Ever

Photo by DS Williams (Creative Commons)

A few weeks ago, I was cooking dinner when our doorbell rang. I answered the door, and found a young (late teens-early twenties) girl, dressed sloppily, with a bag full of bottles of what appeared to be cleaning solution. She did not introduce herself, but instead immediately jumped into a sales pitch by asking “What is the hardest part of cleaning your home…windows? bathrooms? carpet?” When I answered that it was “trying to maintain a semblance of clean with a toddler running around”, she said “Oh, do you have any carpet stains you’d like me to get out for you?” I told her “No, thank you” and was ready to close the door when she continued her pitch.

She talked about all the perks of her cleaning solution, how it was made, on what surfaces it was safe for use, and more. Then, right as my toddler walked over, she opened one of the spray bottles and put the plastic tube in her mouth to LICK OFF THE CLEANER! This was her way of showing me that this product was non-toxic and therefore safe if my toddler happened to get into it. Ummm…really???  YIKES and EWWWWWW!

This has to have been one of the most awkward sales pitches I’ve ever witnessed. Did I buy her product? NO WAY! Honestly, I almost called the police when she left my house. There is, in fact, a No Soliciting sign at the entrance to our neighborhood.

As a sales consultant for one of the most well-known and respected Direct Marketing companies (Mary Kay Cosmetics), I often worry about being too sales-y when talking with new people or doing facials and skin care parties. I don’t ever want to come off as pushy or overly selling my product. Instead, I want people to see that I have a great product about which I’m passionate. I want them to try the product for themselves, and to feel confident in their decision to purchase (or not) the items from me. I think that’s why I often stop myself before I approach a potential new client when I’m out and about. I don’t want to seem fake. I want to have a genuine conversation with women and for them to feel like I was truly interested in what they had to say. I want to be respectful of their time…yet I also want to be able to offer a sample or my business card without being pushy or awkward about it.

In contrast to the desperation I saw in the girl trying to sell cleaning products, I want the women I approach to see passion, hope, and joy in my eyes. I want them to see a woman who, even if she’s running errands with her  two year old, is composed, confident, and approachable. You see, being a Mary Kay consultant isn’t just about making money to me. It is an experience that has given me confidence and has helped me to grow as a wife and mom. I’ve gained friendships and been pushed out of my comfort zones. I’ve learned to think positively about life, and to laugh off some of the stressful days (OK, so I’m not always laughing in the midst of the stress, but usually a day or two later, I can look back and laugh about how stressed I was over something so minor). Because of those things, I don’t want to be a walking sales pitch. I want to share the joy I’ve found with other women!

Tell me: What are the BEST and WORST sales pitches ever thrown your way?

Lies…and the Truth that Defeats Them

I am currently reading the book You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth. It is the current book in the (in)courage Book Club. I found this at the time when I was just beginning my study of self-doubt, so when I realized that the entire book was about finding who I am in Christ, and living out His dreams for me, I knew it was a book I needed to read. I am only three chapters in, and I am LOVING this book! It is speaking to me in ways I never would have imagined. First of all, Holley makes you feel like you are her best friend, that you are truly conversing with her. She is open about her own struggles, while at the same time using her background as a counselor and life coach to help you work through the topics.

Chapter three is all about the lies we allow ourselves to believe. Lies that started in childhood, lies that are often spoken to us, or that we tell ourselves. Lies that we hear often enough that they begin to feel like truth. I am still working through the lies that my heart believes, but one of them is that “No one cares what I have to say, so just sit here quietly and listen to the conversation. You’re not smart enough to really offer anything of value.” OUCH!

What is that lie really saying? It’s telling me that I’m not good enough, or that I don’t have anything of value to offer. Is that true? No! In fact, in Psalm 139:13-14, God tells quite a different story. Those verses say:

For You formed my inward parts

You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are Your works;

my soul knows it very well.

What does God say about me? He says that He formed me, He put me together. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God doesn’t make mistakes. His works are wonderful. When I doubt who God made me to be, I am questioning His workmanship.

What about the story in John 8:1-11? A woman was brought to Jesus, her accusers ready to stone her. She had been caught in adutery, a serious offense. What did Jesus do? He started to write with His finger in the dirt. We don’t know what exactly He wrote, no one does. I think maybe He was writing their sins? Or maybe He was just writing the Ten Commandments? I have no idea…but I do know that whatever He wrote, along with His call for the sinless to cast the first stone, caused the woman’s accusers to drop their stones and walk away.

A quote from the book that has been sticking with me these past couple of days talks about how we can imagine Jesus writing Truth in the dust when Satan begins to accuse us. Holley says: “The enemy is ready to throw stones at us. In the dust of our hearts, I picture Jesus writing truth that covers those accusing words:

  • Loved
  • Accepted
  • Chosen
  • Mine”

Are these the words that I’m listening to, or am I choosing to listen to the lies that I’m unloved, unaccepted, alone?

I posted about not too long ago, and how our fears play into our doubts. Tonight, I’m thinking that our fears are sparked by the lies that we believe about ourselves. When we begin to replace the lies with Truth from God’s word, we can also begin to live a life without fear. It won’t be easy, but it WILL be worth it!