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.

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.

My Three Most Important Things

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ending to my post about awkward sales pitches. In the last paragraph of that post, I said:

“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.”

Followed shortly by:

“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!”

I’ve realized that I said these things about my Mary Kay business, but am I able to say the same things about my relationship with Christ? You see, even before Mary Kay became a part of my life, Jesus came into my life. And my relationship with Him should be so much more important to me than anything else. In fact, I’m even encouraged to run my business with the mindset of God first, Family second, and Career third. The strong Christian values are one of the things that drew me to Mary Kay when I began looking for a small work-from-home business. However, as I sit here typing this today, reflecting on my life and priorities, I have to wonder…am I really living out God first, Family second, Career third? I’ll be honest, I think I tend to put my Family first, and then let God and Career flip-flop for second and third position.

So, today, I’m making a commitment. I am going to spend time every. single. day reading Scripture, praying, and listening to what God has for me. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, that’s more than I’m doing every day right now. Then, I’ll keep my Family in second place, and focus on my Career last.

Question: How do you keep your priorities in the proper order?

You Can Do It!

I had an AMAZING weekend! It was full of encouragement, friends, business ideas, and so much more. Friday night and Saturday, I went to my first ever Mary Kay Career Conference in Knoxville.  I am SO glad that I decided to go!

The theme of the weekend was “You Can Do It”, which is exactly what I need to be my focus. As I’ve shared in my posts on Doubt, I so often allow the fears in my heart (fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of saying the wrong thing) to stop me in my business. What I heard this weekend was that these fears are common, almost everyone has them, or has dealt with them! Sales Directors and National Sales Directors (the top women in Mary Kay) talked about how they dealt with these fears, and what they did to overcome them. One of them even talked about many of the mistakes she had made in her career, and followed each one with “you, too, can be a National Sales Director.”

Here are some of the main points that I brought home this weekend:

  • Get out of your own way – STOP making excuses! Excuses are lies only you believe.
  • Do something TODAY that will move you forward
  • Step out of your comfort zone, do what others are unwilling to do
  • You’ll never get anywhere if you wait for all the lights to turn green before you leave.
  • I have everything to gain and nothing to lose by taking the next step
  • Make the choice that your dream is bigger than your challenges
  • You don’t have the right to give up on the dream that God has put in your heart
  • Never give up on your dream
  • Enjoy the journey you are on
  • Do the work!

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, those points aren’t just great for a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, but they apply to anyone and everyone who has a dream. We are each designed with specific strengths and weaknesses, and God has given each of us a dream. Does that mean that our dream will always be easy? No way! Achieving a dream or goal takes work…and sometimes that work is hard! Sometimes it requires doing things we’re not comfortable doing because we’re not very good at them. Sometimes we have to do things that are scary. However, if we keep making excuses, we’ll never get anywhere! We’ll never reach our goals when we aren’t willing to take the first step toward our goals.

What is a goal or dream you have in your life? Are you allowing fear or doubt to stop you from achieving that goal? Do any of the points above resonate with you? Which one? What are you going to do about it? (OK, I know, that’s a lot of questions. Feel free to answer the first two or three to yourself and the last two in the comments.)

Sorrow Before Joy

To be so early in the year, 2012 has been a roller coaster for my family.  In the past two-and-a-half months, we have had big highs and even bigger lows. A quick rundown for you:

  1.  In late December 2011, we found out we were expecting baby #2.
  2.  3 1/2 weeks later, it was mid-January. My Mamaw went into the hospital. Two days after, we went to our first OB appointment, baby measured 2 weeks behind schedule. I flipped out. Late that afternoon, my Mamaw passed away. At the end of that week, we traveled to be with family for the funeral and to say our final good-byes.
  3.  At the end of January, we went to our second OB appointment, hoping for good news. We left the appointment devastated and in shock that we will never meet our sweet baby.  We scheduled the D & C for later that week.
  4.  In early February, we headed to the hospital for the D & C. An ultrasound confirmed what we already knew…our baby stopped growing at 6 weeks gestation. At this point I totally lost it. I cried for the rest of that day, and off/on for several days to come.
  5.  Mid-February…Quitter Conference! This was a great weekend, focused on finding and chasing your dreams. We met some amazing people, and learned so much about making dreams a reality. We also had a great date night that week…which was SO needed after our January!

The end of February and first half of March have been pretty low-key, thank goodness! We have had time to really work through a lot of our emotions surrounding the miscarriage, and to begin the healing process. I’ve also been reminded that God knows my heart, my fears, and my joys. He also knows exactly what I need to remember that He is in control, not me. Last week, a family expecting their second child around the same time that I would have been due announced the gender of their baby. While I am truly excited for this family, when I read that announcement, my eyes welled up with tears. I cried uncontrollably for several minutes, grieving the loss of my own child. Once I was able to wipe the tears and “Like” the facebook announcement, I began to chuckle. You see, earlier that morning, I had told a good friend of mine that I felt like my hormones and emotions were finally starting to even out. I felt like I was finally starting to be more like myself, instead of this crazy hormonally emotional person that the pregnancy and miscarriage had created. I laughed as I realized that not only was I wrong, I had obviously been made a liar that day. It was a good reminder that I had been depending too much on my own strength in this process. I still need God every single day as I navigate my life’s journey.

I found this verse today, and though I normally post Scripture from the New American Standard Bible or English Standard Version, I really like the way The Message is worded here:

Psalm 30:5b – The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.

I LOVE that! I have definitely had a few nights (and days) of crying my eyes out this year. But now, I’m starting to see those days of laughter more and more. The Lord is good, and He is healing my broken heart as only He can.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
     and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
  to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
     to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:1-3 (ESV) (emphasis added)

Have you ever had a night of crying your eyes out give way to a day of laughter? How has God bound your broken heart?

Doubt and Fear

This weekend, my study of Doubt has brought me to the topic of Fear. Why do we doubt ourselves? What, exactly, is it that we fear? Are we afraid people will really get to know us? Afraid they’ll stop loving us because of one tiny (or HUGE) mistake we made yesterday (or even something 5, 10, or 20 years in the past)? Are we afraid that if they see our messy house, they’ll think we’re unworthy of their friendship? Or maybe we’re afraid of the unknown. We think, “If I take this new job, what will happen next? I don’t know, I can’t see the future, so maybe I’ll just stay in this job that I hate because it’s comfortable here.”

There really are a lot of different things that we could be afraid of. I’m not talking about spiders, heights, snakes, public speaking, and that type of thing. I’m talking about those deep down fears, the ones that truly stop us from becoming what God created us to be. These fears are sometimes brought on by the experiences we’ve had in our lives (a “friend” breaks your trust by telling someone else your secret, an abusive relationship with a parent or spouse, another Christian judges you instead of loving you through a period of sin or struggle). Sometimes, these fears are simply brought on by a misunderstanding of who we are in Christ. It can be hard to really find the root of our fears, but I believe that no matter where they come from, God wants us to work through them. He wants us to learn to trust Him, to see ourselves as He sees us, and to move forward from our pasts into the future He has planned.

How do we do that? How do we let go of our fears and hold on to Him? I’ll be the first to say that I don’t have this all figured out yet, myself. I believe that truly knowing what God thinks of me is a good first step. So, what does God see when He looks at me?

  1. He sees His child, whom He loves. 1 John 3:1a “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
  2. He sees that I have been redeemed. Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”
  3. He sees the new me, not my old self. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”

This is not a comprehensive list. Not even close. However, I think it’s a good start. When I learn to believe these truths, not just in my head, but also in my heart, my fears begin to subside. I begin to have a willingness to step out of my comfort zone, to be more authentic in my life. I begin to share my struggles with someone – my pastor, my spouse, my Bible study group. Yes, I am picky about with whom I share my inner struggles. I can’t, and won’t share them with just anyone, and I don’t believe God wants us to do that. I do believe though, that by sharing with one person, I begin to release the grip I have on my fears, and begin to hold more tightly to the promises God has for me.

Question: What is one of your fears? What is a truth that you can begin to cling to as you release your fears?

Where is Doubt Taking Me?

When I wrote my last post, I honestly thought that I was just writing to myself. I knew that I was writing on a topic that has come up in conversations through the years, but I wasn’t really expecting much to come of that post. I’ve had quite the opposite experience, though. First, I’ve found that the post has opened the door to an amazing conversation with an old friend (not that she’s old, but I’ve known her since high school). Secondly, in the 72 hours since deciding to write on the topic of doubt, I have started doing the 7 Day Doubt Diet that I linked in the last post (I’ll admit, I’ve only done the intro and days 1 & 2), I have seen a lot of tweets, facebook posts, book clubs and blog posts dealing with the topic; and to top it off, the topic of the training at my Mary Kay meeting this week was emotional management. It’s as if God is telling me that this is a topic He really wants me to grasp.

With that in mind, I truly have no idea where exactly this series on doubt is going to go. I’m going to simply post about the things I’m learning, the questions that I ponder after talking you lovely readers, and the questions that I have for you.

Here are some things I’ve been pondering. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments (you can post anonymously if you don’t feel comfortable leaving your name).

  • Can you look back on your life and find one pivotal moment where your confidence faltered?
  • What do you think hinders you most from consistently living with confidence?
  • Be faithful in the ordinary things of life (i.e. Bloom where you’re planted).
  • You have a choice to either let doubt beat you up or let God’s truth build you up. Which choice did you make today?

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Romans 8:37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

*Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible