Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 4}

People-Pleasing, Perfectionism, Performancism, and Procrastination.

The journey of confronting my p-bullies continues today as I consider procrastination.

I sat down to write tonight about procrastination. And like the mouse who was given a cookie, I was reminded that in order to write about procrastination, I needed to watch a video of Ellen Degeneres talking about procrastination–a fabulous routine that we often quote.

Then, after the video was finished, a recommended video popped up on you-tube–Ellen’s 1st live routine on the Johnny Carson show in 1986. Amused by the routine, I copied the link and headed over to my best friend’s Facebook page to share the video with her.

While on her Facebook page, I saw another post from a mutual friend about Go-Gurt–a family favorite, and of course, another great Ellen routine. So, I reached into the freezer to grab a Go-Gurt–they are best frozen–so I could take a picture of it for my friends. I mean, that’s what we do, right? Post random photos of food on social media. Isn’t that what social media is all about?

“Stop it, Mary. Just stop it,” were the words that quickly came to my mind. Which of course led me back to you-tube to watch a fabulous routine from Bob Newhart–another frequently quoted sketch in the Davidson home.

And 20 minutes later…I still haven’t written a word on this blog.

And there you have it.

Procrastination at it’s finest.

Always finding something to do, other than what I actually need to be doing, and convincing myself that I will eventually finish the important task…eventually.

“We think it’s OK to procrastinate, because we’re going to do it later, for sure. Our future self will be incredibly productive and focused! Except, our future self is also lazy, and doesn’t do it either.” – Leo Babauta, quoted in The Cure for the Perfect Life

But this is the way it has always been. Last minute. Late nights. And I make the excuse, “I work better under pressure.” In fact, I’ve been praised by many for my ability to whip out a 20 page paper in a few hours, create a beautiful gift moments before the start of a birthday party, or plan an event the week before.

In high school, much to my mother’s dismay, I would always wait until midnight the night before a paper was due to sit down and write, ultimately showing up at her bedside in tears at 2:00 am and asking for help.

Then, in college, I was the queen of all-nighters, running across campus in my pajamas to turn in a paper on time–a paper that I had fully researched and written in only a few short hours before the morning deadline.

I was a procrastination professional–and had the straight A’s to prove it.

But then the worst occurred. I was given a task without a deadline. A professor decided that I had performed so well in previous courses that he was going to give me an “A” and to “just turn the final paper in whenever you finish it.” That was 2005. It’s now 2014. A Juris Doctorate and a Masters in Psychology, and I still haven’t finished the paper from my final course in undergrad.

Just a few years after this assignment was given, this dear professor passed away. I sat in the hallway at law school and cried. He was a dear friend and we had traveled the world together. He would be missed.

But more than this, I cried with the overwhelming guilt and shame. He had give me an “A” with complete confidence that I would submit an “A” paper. And without a deadline, my procrastination bully took over.

Fast forward to 2013. I was enrolled in a course for my master’s degree, knowing that my due date for baby #3 would fall mid-semester. This kind professor granted me an extension for my final paper, saying “just turn in the final paper whenever you can.” The words were too familiar, and my heart became overwhelmed.

But again, the bully took over. “You don’t have time for this right now. You can always finish it later. Just pick one night in the near future and knock it out. You don’t have a deadline, so you will be fine. You perform better under pressure anyways.”

Now… one year later, and enough is enough. It’s time to put my foot down and make some changes.

Can you relate? You may not have a term-paper that is nine years late, but perhaps you have bitten off more than you can chew. Have you said yes to something you just don’t have the time for? Are you feeling overwhelmed by projects in your home that never seem to get finished? Do you keep putting something on the back-burner, convincing yourself that you will have time for it later?

Here are my steps  that I am taking to confront the procrastination bully. Perhaps they can be a blessing to you as well.

1. Acknowledge that I have a problem with procrastination.

Like many struggles in life, the first step is always to acknowledge that we actually have a problem. And procrastination is no different. No more excuses. No more lies that I work better under pressure.

“Hi, my name is Mary, and I have a serious problem with procrastination.”

2. Put down the smart phone and take a break from social media.

Be very careful, then how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15

We are given only a few hours each day. And a few days each month. Time is limited. So, why do I choose to spend so much time wasting it? Social media has become a quick friend of procrastination, easily distracting me from what is really important. And oh, the smart phone. Don’t get me started on the wonderful invention of the smart phone!

But it’s time for a break. And so, I have given myself some boundaries of when and where I can use my phone or go on social media. In fact, I might even try a 30-day challengemight being the key word. But it is still important to consider the impact and distraction that social media is having on my life. And it’s time to put down the phone.

3. Evaluate what actually needs to be started or finished.

I took some time to evaluate the minor tasks that seem to slip into my list–like re-organizing my children’s toy box for the one-hundreth time. When I am trying to avoid the larger items on my list, I always seem to find something minor that just has to be done right now. But does it really?

I also made a list of the ten tasks that I have been putting off. Of that list, I evaluated what actually needs to be completed and what can be crossed off. Some big tasks and projects…well, lets just say it’s time to let go. I am never going to label all of our books with “From the Library of ______” stickers.

4. Divide the larger task into smaller more manageable steps.

Like eating a large piece a pie, it is always better to take one bite at a time. Kathi Lipp shares, ” When I can objectively break down the project into bite-size pieces (fifteen-minute tasks, for example), I’m not nearly as overwhelmed, and my dread of the project turns to a desire to get some checkmarks toward completion.”

This is how I will tackle these larger, dreadful, and overwhelming projects that continue to haunt me (the ones that actually need to be completed, remember?). I will take one step each day towards completion.

5. Stop it. Just stop it.

When all else fails, sometimes I just need to remind myself, “Stop it. Just stop it.” Grab that quick cup of coffee, and GET TO WORK. There is nothing holding me back but myself, and sometimes, if I’m honest, I just need to get over it and get the job done.

And so the challenge begins. What will I do when the procrastination bully appears again?

Well…first things first…it’s time for me to write two papers.


{Share Today} Please share in the comments today:

  • In what areas of your life are you procrastinating?
  • What fears are holding you back from starting or completing a task?
  • What brave steps can you take today to confront procrastination one piece at a time?

Cure-for-the-Perfect-Life-COVER-1000-x-1545-662x1024This series is derived from and inspired by The Cure for the Perfect Life by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory.

{Read Chapter 1} You can get a taste of this fabulous book by downloading and reading chapter 1 Here.

{Buy the Book} Get your own copy of this amazing book, Here.

Remember, check back next Monday for the final part in the series, “Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 5},” as we summarize this #braverliving rebellion and make a few final comments.

For those of you who missed it, here is the rest of the series:

{Part 1} People-Pleasing
{Part 2} Perfectionism
{Part 3} Performancism

Mary 🙂

Advertisements

Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 3}

People-Pleasing, Perfectionism, Performancism, and Procrastination.

The journey of confronting my p-bullies continues today as I consider performancism (because of course, we have to save procrastination for last).

Wait. What in the world is performancism? Surely, this can’t even be a real word. It has that squiggly red line underneath it and everything. Performancism? Really.

Performancism is not the same thing as strong work ethic. Nor is it practicing a skill to master. Just as workaholism is not merely working hard but an actual addiction to work, Performancism is a compulsive, insatiable craving for achievement.

Well…I guess when you put it that way.

That’s me.

Perhaps more than the people-pleasing and perfectionism, I am a performer–a creator, an accomplisher, a do-er of tasks and to do lists, a dreamer, an actualizer. I perform, and I perform well.

And when I can’t perform… I’m a complete and total mess.

I’ve often been told that I need to take a break, take a vacation, relax, and do nothing. But my mind quickly responds, “Do Nothing? How can I just do nothing?”

My husband and children plead with me, “Sit down. Just be with us.” And my mind quickly responds, “How can I just be? Being is a waste of time. There is so much to do. Let’s do something as a family and stop sitting around doing nothing.”

I must do. This is what defines me. This is who I am.

In his book, Me, Myself, and Bob, Phil Vischer of VeggieTales said it best:

I had grown up drinking a dangerous cocktail–a mix of the gospel, the Protestant work ethic, and the American dream. My eternal value was rooted in what I could accomplish. My role here on earth was to dream up amazing things to do for God.

I knew I liked VeggieTales.

But to the doing and accomplishing.

It began in my teenage years. Involved in every activity. Finding fulfillment and contentment in the accomplishments, the ability to manage it all, and to still be successful. Cheerleader. Football Player. Lead dancer or actress in a theater production. Captain of the Basketball team. And the awful list continues.

Then into College–working multiple jobs, choreographing for the theater department, volunteering for ministries, and still having time to pursue excellence in my studies.

Excellence. That was the root of it. I wanted to be excellent.

That’s what God had called me to be right? To be excellent in all that I did, doing it all for the glory of God.

Yes. I would be excellent in all things, and I would do great and amazing things for God. I would finish my degree, travel the world sharing the gospel, start a non-profit organization saving the lives of orphans and leading them to Christ, all while publishing great books, practicing law, learning new languages (so I could translate the Bible of course), meeting the amazing and perfect man of my dreams, and mothering  the most beautiful and Christ-like children, whom I would then homeschool from our hut in a Zimbabwe village, where we were planting a church and eradicating HIV/AIDS.

I would do great things for God.

Great things FOR God? When did my life become about doing great things for God, as if he needed me at all? Why do we think that we must do?

Please hear me. I am in no way rejecting God’s desire for us to love, serve, and obey him. But our lives are not defined by our great accomplishments for his kingdom. Rather, we are defined in His eyes, by the grace that cleanses us white as snow, and by our obedience as we take up our cross daily and follow him. This is true excellence.

So, daily I am challenged. Challenged to take a deep breath, reflect on the present, and just be.

Be still. Be still and know that he is God. Be still and let go of the future. Be still and trust. Be.

The spiritual discipline of being.

No more accomplishments. No more performancism. Just being.

Ditch your “human doing” status, and reclaim your “human being” birthright.


{Share Today} Please share in the comments today:

  • In what areas of your life are you striving for accomplishments?
  • How is performancism impacting your relationships?
  • Do your to-do lists, success stories, and accomplishments define you?
  • What brave step are you taking to confront this bully?

Cure-for-the-Perfect-Life-COVER-1000-x-1545-662x1024This series is derived from and inspired by The Cure for the Perfect Life by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory.

{Read Chapter 1} You can get a taste of this fabulous book by downloading and reading chapter 1 Here.

{Buy the Book} Get your own copy of this amazing book, Here.

Remember, check back next Monday for “Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 4},” as we continue this #braverliving rebellion.

For those of you who missed it, here is {Part 1} of this series.

Mary 🙂

On this day…

On this day, I remember.

I remember for the sake of my mother.

I remember for the sake of my children.

I remember for my own heart.

On this day. Three years ago.

Following a phone call from my brother, and a 5 hour drive from Riverside to Merced, Kris and I had arrived at the hospital the day before. We were greeted with mixed tears and smiles. Gladness for our arrival. Complete sorrow for my father’s condition.

He had a stroke.

Doctor’s did not have positive feedback, but we held onto hope.

Late into the evening we stayed by his side, taking turns to hold his hand and talk to him, while others napped in the waiting room.

Sara and Matt arrived from Texas. Daniel arrived from North Carolina.

Motel reservations were made across the street and many of us decided it was best to get a few hours of rest.

Daniel and Kris would stay with Dad through the night. Keeping him company. Each wanting a little bit more time by his side.

I would later learn that Kris read to him through the night from the book of Joshua–my Dad’s favorite. Be strong and courageous were repeated time and again.

10653427_10152433259875805_2180062137068801286_n

His condition deteriorated with the passing hours. The monitors reported the worst.

Daniel called us early in the morning and said we needed to come back.

Teeth brushed. Bras back on.

I knocked on Andrew and Susie’s door.

Mom and I drove back to the hospital in the dark of the morning and parked in the wrong spot. We had to walk to a different door because it was late in the night, and security was only present at a front entrance.

We stood by his side and waited.

Michael arrived. Dad’s first Bible and photos in hand. We would take this time to remember.

We knew it was time to say goodbye.

I began to lead in song. Kris says I led worship, in a joyous sense. Like our own version of a New Orleans jazz band playing “Oh When the Saints” as we marched through the grave yard.

We all pulled out our tablets and Bibles, sharing scriptures, songs, and stories.

We each took turns leading a song or sharing our heart.

Mac and Bre and Sonna stayed with us the entire time. They shared their own stories too. Sonna recalled her own mothers passing and Dad’s presence there during her own difficult time.

The nurses came with difficult decisions to make. We agreed to preserve his body, donating nothing to science. We didn’t want them to take his body away, but instead wanted to stay with him until the last goodbye.

I reminded my mother that our little Dani Blue Eyes had Grandpa’s eyes and he would never be forgotten.

IMG_0140

His heart rate started to drop around 9:00 am and then spiked quickly. I shouted, “He just saw Jesus.”

We tried to laugh.

Then up and down and up and down his heart went. A longing to continue down the streets of gold and yet keeping one foot in the world with his grieving family. Like the Carman song he loved so much.

“Lord, if my loved ones only knew
The limitless wonders of Heaven
If they could steal but one brief glimpse of glory
I know what they would do”

“Because they loved me, they’d never ask
That I return to the confines of my human body
Lord, I can’t go back, please let me stay with You”

We cheered him on to the finish line. He had fought the good fight, like the boxers he admired so much. The final bell had rung and Dad had thrown his final punch.

And then like a good Baptist, he died at 10:30, letting go, just in time for service—the most glorious service of all in the presence of an amazing God.

And I sang,

“Going up to the spirit in the sky. That’s where I’m gonna go when I die. When I die and they lay me to rest, I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best.”

He was gone from us. His spirit gone and quickly he became cold here in our presence. I turned to Kris and proclaimed quietly, “Let’s get out of here. He is gone. That’s not my Dad anymore. He is gone.”

Gone in this life. Fully alive in Christ.

“Master, only You make all things new
For You alone are Lord and God, Saviour and King
And forever and ever, throughout all eternity
I’ll join the hosts of heaven
As they praise You day, after day, after day.”

We said goodbye.

And after finalizing a few hospital details, we all went to eat hot dogs and root beer at Sonics.

Dad would have liked that.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_3597

IMG_3641

IMG_3705

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_6701

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 2}

People-Pleasing, Perfectionism, Performancism, and Procrastination.

The journey of confronting my p-bullies continues today as I consider perfectionism.

You know, that character trait we try so hard to disguise by giving it a more positive spin–highly organized, born-leader, attention to detail, commitment to excellence, A-type personality. Somehow, by giving it a different name it just sounds better, right?

But perfectionism? Well, that just sounds like a spoiled princess.

Yet this is exactly who I had become.

It began in my school days, as early as elementary. A need to be perfect in all that I accomplished. Avoid chaos. Stay organized. Achieve high. Receive recognition. It was a simple equation.

Into high school, college, and law school, this perfectionism continued. Every assignment, presentation, and group project was never sub-par. Every “I” dotted and every “T” crossed with absolute precision. I would get the best grade. I would win. I would be perfect.

The awards continued. Scholarships. Accolades. Atta-boys.

But perfectionism is a lonely road.

“I ended up alienating myself from my classmates because they found me intimidating. In my efforts to impress, I unknowingly set the bar so high, nobody felt they could come close to my achievements or to me.” – Cheri Gregory

Now, into my adult life–a wife and a mother–this need for perfection in my circumstances, surroundings, and finished products has only been perpetuated and fueled by my pinterest-perfect living and a desire to compete with other wives and mothers.

To ensure a perfect facade at the very least, I need things to be my way, in my timing, conforming to my view of the world and our present circumstances. I need things to be perfect. And it needs to be my definition of perfection.

Recently, my husband was trying to help out in the kitchen by putting away the leftover food from dinner. When I entered the kitchen and noticed that he was using the “wrong” Tupperware for the chili, a look of disapproval quickly came over my face. “Doesn’t he know better,” was my first thought. But as I tried to correct my thought process and my look of disdain, it was too late. The damage had been done.

Seriously? Tupperware? He was trying to help! And who cares which container is used for the food. At least the food is being put away, right?

10590608_613414232112328_828754594365499160_n

So, here is the deal.  I hate the feeling of chaos or living out of control. A pile of dishes, for example, in my sink is just a reflection to me of imperfection and chaos throughout my entire life. If my kitchen is a mess then I must be a mess.

And in the midst of obsession with the mess and the need for perfection, I miss out on so many amazing moments. Opportunities to grow with my family, to teach my children, to minister to others. And again, like in the days of school, I find myself alone.

Perfect but alone. Perfect but relationships destroyed.

Why? Why must I be perfect? Why must everything and everyone around me measure up to my definition of perfection?

10450684_10152337896721961_7533122291508831111_n

So there it is. A fear that I’m not perfect. A fear that my imperfect world is just a reflection of my own imperfections.

Now what?

God’s grace, God’s grace, God’s grace.

I remind myself that Christ died for me “while [I] was still a sinner” (Romans 5:8), and this means all of my imperfections and insecurities–dishes, laundry, and all.

I have had to learn how to count the many messes (yes, embracing the messes) as blessings–crumbs of food on the floor under the high chair means that Kaycee is alive and healthy and eating; dirty socks and potty training panties piled high on the laundry room floor means that the Lord has provided clothes for my family; games and toys strewn across the living room floor means that my children love to play here and feel comfortable in this home.

I am not perfect. My husband, my children, and my home are not perfect. Our circumstances are not perfect. And that’s ok.

It’s time for me to stop chasing this perfectionism prize.

It’s time for me to be brave, embrace the imperfections, and delight in the wonderful moments of the present…wrong Tupperware and all.


{Share Today} Please share in the comments today:

  • In what areas of your life are you demanding perfectionism?
  • How is perfectionism impacting your relationships? Are you feeling alone?
  • What fears do you have that need to be acknowledged?
  • What brave steps can you take to embrace the imperfections?

Cure-for-the-Perfect-Life-COVER-1000-x-1545-662x1024This series is derived from and inspired by The Cure for the Perfect Life by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory.

{Read Chapter 1} You can get a taste of this fabulous book by downloading and reading chapter 1 Here.

{Buy the Book} Get your own copy of this amazing book, Here.

Remember, check back next Monday for “Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 3},” as we continue this #braverliving rebellion.

For those of you who missed it, here is {Part 1} of this series.

Mary 🙂

Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 1} and My “Perfect” Blog {Winner}

I decided to be ambitious.

Instead of picking delicately at this calling to write more, I would bite off a whole slice of commitment and dive right in.

So… today begins Part 1 of a five-part series, “Confronting my P-Bullies.”

People-Pleasing, Perfectionism, Performancism, and Procrastination.

Yes. FIVE-part series. No, I don’t struggle with performancism in the least bit. But that is a conversation for week three of this FIVE-part series. Did I mention there are FIVE parts!?! What was I thinking?

Oh…that’s right.

People-pleasing.

An invitation was given for individuals within the #braverliving rebellion community to blog, share, and reflect on The Cure for the Perfect Life by Kathi Lipp & Cheri Gregory. Not wanting to disappoint and wanting to communicate my absolute support for this amazing book and project, I committed to a series.

Why couldn’t I just write one simple blog?

Because, when we are focused on bringing happiness to others, to pleasing THEM instead of doing what is right and good…nothing is ever simple.

“People-pleasing is not the same thing as love; in fact, in many cases it is a major cause of the erosion of love.”

This past week, as I prepared to write, I went to grab my copy of the book in all of it’s pink-highlighted glory. I soon discovered my one-year-old daughter, Kaycee, had developed a knack for thievery and concealment. Yes, my book was completely gone. Totally gone.

I began to panic and proceeded to throw our home into utter-chaos and disarray, forcing every member of our household to search for this book. Mommy was not going to be happy until this book was found.

I quickly became convinced that Kaycee had put the book in the garbage, and wouldn’t you know that my diligent husband had emptied all the garbages just the night before, and the faithful garbage man picked up everything the very next day. Seriously?! What is it with people doing their jobs!?

So… with a writing deadline of Monday for a new blog series revolving around THIS BOOK, I was faced with a difficult decision. Keep looking and crying and looking and crying…or, buy ANOTHER copy of the book and read it ALL by Monday AND write the blog series.

My husband kept encouraging me, “It’s no big deal. We can get you another copy of the book.”

No big deal? Did he know me at all? All that pink-highlighter, personal notes, underlines, and writing ideas. No big deal?

I started to cry. I started to panic.

Why?

Because in the back of my mind my People-Pleasing Bully was convincing me that I would be a horrible disappointment to Kathi and Cheri and the ENTIRE #braverliving rebellion community by not writing.

  • “How will they ever know you really care about this project unless you write a perfect blog?”
  • “You will be such a let down to this community and your readers.”
  • “You will never be asked to write again.”
  • “You will need to beg for forgiveness and write even more to make up for this.”

… and the bully continued.

“People-pleasing is a rip current. When we ignore the warning signs and dive in, we will be overwhelmed by overcommitment.”

Here I was, caught in the deadly rip current, powerless to say no, and now being swept out to sea by this people-pleasing bully. Not only was I drowning in tears of disappointment, but I was overwhelmed by the consequences of my overcommitment.

Breath. Deep breath, Mary.

It was time to let go. To give up. Forget about the book. Get some sleep. And start a new day tomorrow.

As I put the dirty clothes from the day in the hamper…there staring up at me… a perfect pink cupcake!

I found my book.

My heart leapt with joy!

“Praise the Lord. Now, I won’t be a disappointment to everyone!”

Wait. What?! Really!? All of that emotional turmoil and I was STILL focused on everyone else?!

Then…there it was…page 236…like a spiritual-smack-on-the-back-of-the-head…

“We are not designed to please people. We are designed to please God.”

How many times have I said yes when I need to say no, only to please others?

How many times have I been more concerned with making others happy instead of praising, honoring, and delighting in the Lord?

How many times have I said yes in disobedience to God?

How many times have I been more scared of what people think, instead of living in righteous fear of the LORD?

… A few days have passed since I found my book, but in all authenticity, I found much more than my book on that day. I found some answers. Difficult answers, but answers nonetheless. Answers for me to confront this people-pleasing bully, and to seek ways in which I can please the Lord instead.


Cure-for-the-Perfect-Life-COVER-1000-x-1545-662x1024

{Winner} On July 28th, we began the giveaway for a free copy of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life: 12 Ways to Stop Tryin Harder and Start Living Braver by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory.

And the winner is…

Rebekah (email: rfuller31514@gmail.com)

Congratulations! You will receive an email about how to get your FREE copy!

For others, you do NOT want to miss out on this amazing book.

{Read Chapter 1} You can get a taste of this fabulous book by downloading and reading chapter 1 Here.

{Buy the Book} Get your own copy of this amazing book, Here.

Remember, check back next Monday for “Confronting my P-Bullies {Part 2},” as we continue this #braverliving rebellion.

Mary 🙂

Christian Holocaust, Mark Driscoll, and Robin Williams

These are the headlines. The news that fills our twitter feeds and Facebook walls.

My mind spins and my heart breaks.

Questions. Confusions. Tears.

But what do all of these headlines have in common?

How can my mind and heart equate the suicide of a loved movie star to the vicious slaughter of thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ?

And what does one pastor’s “fall from grace” mean in the midst of it all?

What is the single thread?

Depravity.

This is the fallen world. And while each news article, posted video, and image released brings waves of sadness in various degrees, it does not bring shock.

I am not surprised.

Not in a sense of of miss-know-it-all-cocky-self-righteous-confidence. But rather in honest reflection and meditation upon the Word of God and the world in which we live.

God said it. And it is so.

The heart is deceitful and desperately sick. Jeremiah 17:9

No one does good. Romans 3:12

Nothing good dwells in the flesh. Romans 7:18

Darkened and alienated from God. Ephesians 4:18

Treacherous, reckless, lovers of pleasure. 2 Timothy 3:4

They WILL persecute you. John 15:20

God said it. And it is so.

Wise counsel (a.k.a., my dear husband) has continued to remind me, “It should not surprise us when the world acts like the world.” I never want him to be right. But as the news continues, there lies the proof of the heartbreaking state of the fallen world.

In this fallen world, the weakened mind will give way to the evil darkness and depression that knocks, silencing that still small voice of hope and abandoning man with nothing but the choice to end it all. Depravity.

In this fallen world, a pastor will fail to fully comprehend the weight of his position and succumb to the emotional and spiritual burnout that so many endure, leaving a wake of divisive and destructive words behind him. Depravity.

In this fallen world, the enemy will attack from within the church, causing division and the absence of forgiveness and grace. Depravity.

In this fallen world, innocent eyes stare down the barrel of a gun, the blade of a knife, and watch in horror as their loved ones cry out, “Abba Father,” only seconds before they meet their maker. Depravity.

In this fallen world.

Anger. Hatred. Betrayal. Manipulation. Abuse. Addiction. Rape.

Death.

Depravity.

In this fallen world.

And me… what exactly am I supposed to do? A mother, trying desperately to raise three-little girls? Three little girls that I pray will someday be bold and courageous women of God? How? How exactly am I supposed to do that when their world is filled with so much darkness?

“No parent can child-proof the world.
A parent’s job is to world-proof the child.”
– Doug Flanders, MD

A few years ago I was approached by a local grass-roots political movement to help review the California state laws regarding education and help petition the local government to bring institution-led prayer back into the public school system. Although I believe in prayer, I had to decline this invitation. In a just brief moment, I came to realize a valuable lesson: I could either spend all my time trying to change a fallen world so that my children would be safe, or I could trust the Word of God which says the world WILL get worse, and instead spend all my time trying to prepare my children to live in that worsening world. I chose my children.

This was a good decision. The right decision. But now, now I must make this decision again and again each and every day.

In just a minuscule moment in history, I am tasked with the incredible privilege to pour my life and soul into the hearts of three precious little girls, and prepare them for the world around them.

But I am not alone. And they do not belong to me.

My children belong to God… HE is writing their story and I am merely putting luggage in their trunk for the journey.

So, I continue to pack bags filled with tools, resources, lessons, and love. Unconditional love. And someday, I will talk with each of them about the pain, heartache, anger, and hatred.

I will tell them about hurtful words.

I will tell them how to be careful with social media.

I will tell them about the atrocity of suicide.

I will tell them that persecution is real.

But more than anything I will tell them that I love them and JESUS loves them too!

And when that day comes…heaven forbid and tears well in my eyes as I write… when that day comes and they too are faced with a barrel or blade, they will courageously proclaim, “I CHOOSE JESUS.”

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Praise is the Key

I will bess the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1

The early morning darkness throughout the house.

The air conditioning kicks on and sends a cool breeze, chilling my bones.

The air. The darkness.

Too much a reflection of my present heart. A soul hurting.

I went to bed angry and frustrated. At no particular person and no particular situation. Everything is wrong, but nothing is wrong. But angry, frustrated, hurting, and crying nonetheless.

I cried out to my husband sitting near, “I am hopeless.”

And I awaken, not surprisingly, in the same state.

Cool air. Darkness.

“I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I knew not what I wept for…The iron bolt . . . mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison.” – Charles Spurgeon

Part of me wants to stay here. A pity party of sorts in the depths of this depravity. There is a morbid comfort that meets me here, for I know that I am not alone in the trenches of mind-numbing, unexplainable depression or hopelessness. Many suffer too. I am not alone here.

Dani wants to play the glad game at the dinner table. Thank you Polyanna.

I am too distracted.

Dinner must be eaten. Dishes washed. Floors swept and mopped.

But if I am honest, I just don’t want to be glad.

I know the devastating affects that gladness can have.

“How I want to see the weight of glory break my thick scales, the weight of glory smash the chains of my desperate materialism, split the numbing shell of deadening entertainment, bust up the ice of catatonic hearts” – Ann VosKamp

But I cannot stay here.

“When you do not fight for joy, it’s your children who lose.” – Ann VosKamp

I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a friend and a mentor.

But I am nothing to anyone if I allow the darkness to overwhelm me.

Sure, first world problems overwhelm my heart sometimes, and they just hurt. Sometimes physically hurt.

But my children, my marriage, my home… they will hurt more if I give up.

And so, once again, I cling to praise.

# 68. Stacks of painted paper and scribbles of butterflies and hand prints.

#69. The smell of fresh laundry warm from the dryer.

# 70. A new dress for a coming wedding.

Praising God for the good.

Praise is the key that releases God’s character back into even the ugliest of attitudes and darkest of situations.” – Lysa TerKeurst

And so I praise. I give thanks.

# 71. Blueberry and Mango Smoothies

# 72. A garage full of tools actually being used.

Putting one foot in front of the other.

Eucharisteo. Always, always, precedes the miracle.

# 73. Home repair projects.

# 74. Grilled cheese sandwiches.

# 75. My husband holding me tight in the night.

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8a

My “Perfect” Blog {Giveaway}

Ok… so here is the deal.

I signed up to write a blog. Just a simple blog, right?

A blog reflecting my reading of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life: 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory.

It’s now Sunday night. The blog is “due” on Monday morning.

It’s not that I intended to procrastinate, but…well… that’s just what happens.

Always.

And now, the night before, I am stuck struggling to write the “perfect” blog, with the “perfect” opening lines, stories, analogies, and thought provoking words to capture you as my reader.

So…here I am… reading a book to help me overcome my struggles with people-pleasing, perfectionism, performancism, and procrastination, and I am STUCK.

Stuck.

In my attempts to write the perfect blog and please all readers and audiences–because, of course, my value and self-worth is determined by how many likes, comments, and re-posts my blog will receive (it’s not life changing unless it goes viral, right?)–I have allowed the fear of failure to prevent me from writing until the very last minute. Once again. “Perfectionistic Paralysis” and procrastination at its finest.

For years now I have convinced myself that excellence, organization, order, and cleanliness were next to godliness.

“True excellence is simply doing our very best–perfectionism demands a flawless performance at all times.”

I need to be flawless, right?

The Proverbs 31 woman, right? Perfect, right?

Wrong.

“Perfectionism isn’t Christian. It’s just crazy.”

This “craziness” has actually led to craziness. With the birth of three children, full-time work and school, hubby in school full-time, and the feeble attempts to minister and disciple, I lost complete control.

Dishes and laundry piled. Panic attack.

Submission of sub-par school work. Panic attack.

Grocery shopping with the children. Panic attack. (Ok, that one doesn’t really count. Doesn’t everyone have a panic attack while grocery shopping with children?). But, you get the point.

As a student of psychology, I quickly scanned the diagnostic manuals of mental disorders for my official diagnosis. Note to self: Never diagnose your self.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.

Or, was it Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Or, was it a social phobia?

Or, was it a mood disorder?

The label had to be perfect, right? Just like everything else.

“A perfectionist is not someone who is perfect; it is someone who is miserable, because they can’t get it right.”

Now, please don’t hear me for what I am not saying. I am not challenging or undermining the valid diagnoses of those struggling with real mental illness. Some people have real mental health concerns and should treat them with all seriousness.

But some people… some people like me… need to stop the madness, stop the diagnosis, stop the labeling (my sweet husband has been telling me this for years), and just start living.

Living braver!

“We have to rebel. We have to make choices that are countercultural to our society, our families of origin, and even our churches.”

So, what exactly does this #braverliving look like? And is it even possible? Can I actually rebel?

In their upcoming book, soon to be released, Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory have given me some hope, and through #tinyactsofrebellion I can finally stop trying so hard and finally start living braver.

Tiny acts.

I’m learning to take small steps and rejoice in the tiny acts of rebellion that are freeing me from the bullies of people-pleasing, perfectionism, performancism, and procrastination.

Tiny acts.

Taking joy in the accomplishment of a task, recognizing that the work of my hands brings glory to the Lord–an audience of one–regardless of comments (or no comments) from others around me.

Tiny acts.

Confronting a co-worker who has continually offended me, and establishing boundaries for future interaction.

Tiny acts.

Repeating the mantra, “I am not a bad mother,” even if the dishes are piled high and we are eating grilled cheese sandwiches for the third time this week.

Tiny acts.

Accepting that failure is just a part of progress and growth, so releasing the fear and taking the risk to write more.

Tiny acts.

Publishing a blog that is far from perfect, but honest and real.

“Authenticity is what it takes to battle the bullies.”

Tiny acts.

With each act, each day, and each new chapter in life (and in this book 🙂 ), I am trading my try harder living, rejecting the fear within, embracing the love from above, and living the life of courage and bravery that God has called me to live.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and DO NOT BE AFRAID.” John 14:27


 

Cure-for-the-Perfect-Life-COVER-1000-x-1545-662x1024

{Giveaway} Win a copy of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life: 12 Ways to Stop Tryin Harder and Start Living Braver by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. Share in the comments with us today and one commenter will be selected to win a free copy!

  1. How are you trying hard to have the perfect life?
  2. What do you think is your biggest struggle–people-pleasing, perfectionism, performancism, or procrastination? Why? How does it show?
  3. How do you think this book will help you?

{Read Chapter 1} You can get a taste of this fabulous book by downloading and reading chapter 1 Here.

{Buy the Book} Get your own copy of this amazing book, set to release on August 4th. Pre-order a copy of the book Here.

Can’t wait to hear from you, and have you join me on this #braverliving rebellion.

Mary 🙂

Praise God for the Good

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him all creatures here below;
Praise him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Sometimes I get grumpy. Just straight grumpy, full of negativity, and with nothing but complaints on my lips. Grumpy, and in a funk. My house is a mess. I hate my job. My kids don’t listen to me. My husband and I lack consistency in our communication and date nights are almost non-existent. We have no direction as a family. Most of my girlfriends live too far away, and wah-wah-wah, I can’t afford to join my sweet sisters at the She Speaks conference going on right now or the Online Bible Study Retreat in the fall. Again…wah-wah-wah.

And then I just feel dumb. First world problems, you know? In my selfishness and ethnocentric view of life I tend to forget a hurting world–slavery, abductions, wars, devastation, hunger, and lost-lost souls.

And yet, I am reminded of my sisters in Lira, Uganda, praising the Lord even in the midst of hardship. Real hardship.

Praise.

Praising God for the good.

How do we capture the love our souls were designed for and let it change us for good?  We start by recognizing that all that is good in our life comes from God and praising Him for that. It’s so easy to get distracted by what is wrong in our life and and take for granted all that is good. – Lysa TerKeurst, Am I Messing Up My Kids?

I don’t want to be distracted any more. I don’t want to take for granted all that is good. I want to praise.

Yes Lord, I enter this day into a time of praise. Praise in the midst of directionless depression and uncertainties. Praise. It roots me once again in the truth of who you are—your grace, love, and mercies overflowing even to those of us unworthy and unfaithful. You are faithful when we are faithless. You are joy when we are joyless. You bring peace when we find only turmoil. You alone lift us up and plant our feet on solid ground. Praise. It roots me.

And so I praise you Lord…

I praise you for cups of coffee, pens and journals, photographs, roses and daisies, soft candles, strawberry milkshakes, and warm lavender baths.

I praise you for my home, in all of its unique personality, broken hinges, and peeling paint—it is home, a place of warmth and comfort, and it brings joy to my heart to be here.

I praise you for a steady job and reliable income. A job that not only pays the bills but allows me the opportunity to continually minister to young adults seeking truth and answers.

I praise you for sweet friendships from long-time girlfriends and my precious Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study community.

I praise you for the three beautiful little girls who teach me each day about patience, listening, love, laughter, reading good books, being silly, and asking big questions.

I praise you for the amazing man that you have provided in my life—my protector, my encourager, my lover, my best friend.

I praise you for the freedom to worship you with our local gathering of believers, united in brotherly love and with a passion to know you more.

I praise you for the strength, courage, wisdom, insight, direction, and peace that comes from you alone.

I praise you for all that is good.

Amen.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him all creatures here below;
Praise him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Relax, Refill, and Refocus

When I became pregnant with Sadie Rose, our first child, I started writing a journal, filled with photos of ultrasounds, notes from doctor visits, clippings from articles, and prayers for my soon-coming baby girl. I continued this journal through the first few years of her life, intending to give her this precious gift of prayers, thoughts, and wonderment when she turned 18 years old.

When I became pregnant with Dani, our second child, I knew that I had to continue this gift idea. And so, another journal began. I did well in the beginning, capturing notes and thoughts from the visits to the doctor, and recording the names of the nurses who helped deliver Dani on that special day. However, three years later, I still have not written her birth story and many milestones have gone unrecorded in her journal.

Now, our third child, Kaycee has just turned 1-year-old. And what does her journal look like? Well…I missed most of the doctor visits, and I haven’t written in her journal since she was three months old. So…there’s that.

Just another project unfinished. Another failure as a mother. And each time I look at these journals sitting on my desk, I am reminded of how far behind I am in writing, how I will never catch up, and how I should just give up now. I rationalize to myself, “I just don’t have the time. I’m too exhausted. Besides, they would rather have a home cooked meal than a stupid journal, right? When they finally turn 18, they probably won’t like these gift-journals anyways.”

But today… Today was different. Today, my husband called me home from work and ask me to care for the girls since he was feeling sick. When I arrived home he encouraged me to just spend time with them–don’t work, just relax and enjoy your time with them.

Relax?

Really?

So, with “Princess Music” playing in the background (Thank You Disney Channel on Pandora), the girls and I sat at the dining room table to paint.

For two hours they painted… and me… well, in this relaxing moment I grabbed Kaycee’s journal and began to write! I cut, I glued, I stickered, and I wrote precious memories.

Now, in this late afternoon, as all three nap, I breath in the day, the relaxation, and embrace the refill from the Lord and His sweet treats. A glass of almond milk. A Cadburry Crunchie bar. And a good book (wink wink Lysa TerKeurst) and my Bible. This is just what I needed.

We all fall short and must rely on God. Becoming frustrated and mad will completely drain us and make us feel defeated. Turning our circumstances over to God will right our heart, change the way we look at the situation, and help us recognize glimpses of God in the midst of our broken efforts.
– Lysa TerKeurst, Am I Messing Up My Kids?

The fact of the matter is, I am not a failure as a mother. Sure, I have dishes piling in the sink, laundry left unfolded, dust collecting on the dressers and bookshelves, and Lord know’s my kitchen floor needs a major mopping. And, let’s not forget that I am months and years behind in my journalling and scrapbooking for my children.

But, I am not a failure.

I just need a little refill every so often.

And my refill comes from Christ alone.

The best kind of refreshment is found when we go to the Lord and ask Him to fill us.
– Lysa TerKeurst, Am I Messing Up My Kids?

And so, in this day of relaxation–thank you hubby!–I can be refilled by the sweetness of the Lord, and refocus my attention not on the unfinished tasks or failed projects, but rather on the blessed gifts of my children, my home, a comfy rocking chair, a simple candy bar, a pen and my journal and all that I too often take for granted. Amen. Amen.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8