For the Quitters Among Us

Let me start by admitting I go by another name. It’s true. While “Missy” is certainly one way to turn my head toward the sound of your voice, so is “Quitzilla”.

As we wrap up our study of The Five Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz over on the P31 Online Bible Studies’ blog, I’m reminded of my “other” name.

And I don’t like it. Or her. (Quitzilla, not Nicki Koziarz, because she? She is LOVELY!)

This person inside of me who doubts she has what it takes to see a new adventure through to completion? I don’t care for her.

And, I know I’m not alone. Friends share constantly about issues they quit over and over again. We all seem to have issues that just can’t seem to be overcome.

  • The weight that won’t come off
  • The relationship that won’t heal
  • The risk we just can’t seem to take

 

Slowly, I’m seeing the patterns of behavior where my inner quitter starts getting most vocal. No surprises in the patterns, either. The enemy of my soul, the one who won’t quit trying to turn my eyes from He who makes everything possible, will press on. It’s my job to see when I’m most prone to hearing his hollow tune over the steady song of my Savior.

And, I think I’ve nailed down how I can do that best.

Just do the next thing.

Simple, right? It should be. But, I tend to get wrapped up in the whole goal. What is my end game? And, I start looking down the barrel of that goal and I get tunnel vision. Big time.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who forgets to take it one step at a time?

Recently, Sweetman and I had to make a financial decision that hurt. It ruined a perfectly good summer vacation plan and put a wedge in some perfectly wonderful friendships. What I most wanted to do, as Sweetman and I approached this hurtful decision-making process, was quit. Flat out throw caution and wisdom to the wind and do what I wanted to do. And that Quitzilla voice roared the whole time we wrestled with the choice before us.

But God…

He keeps reassuring me our resolution was not just the wise thing to do, but exactly what we needed to do to be good stewards of all He’s given.

And He has given much! He has blessed when I deserved less than half a devil dog. He had seen fit to right too many of my wrongs. He washes me new with grace and mercy All The Days.

Moving forward is a matter of taking that next right step.

I’m quitting the quitting.

Yes indeedy!

What’s hard for you for you to quit? What gives you strength to keep going?

 

Five Things I Learned in September

September heralds birthday-mania, in this family of mine. Soccer starts, summer ends, and generally, All The Busy-ness intrudes into every breathing space I’ve spent the summer cultivating in my soul. Every. Single. September.

But, looking back over the past month (I praise you, Lord, for ushering in October!), I’ve taken inventory of what is important and what can be let go of. Maybe it’s because I’m already tired of the tyranny of the urgent that shouts from day one of September. It could also be that I’m applying loads from our study over on Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies Or, it could just be the sugar talking (from the many pieces of cake I’ve consumed this month).

In any case, here are the five (most important) things I learned in September.

  1. There is still no such thing as too much cake. There is, however, such a thing as a scale to try to tell you otherwise. I can’t get over how much I love my people, so celebrating another year with each one of them was precious. This picture so perfectly captures one day of the celebrating. I feel the need to point out that four birthdays are represented in this picture. And that’s just the family birthdays! Family_Bdays_Missindeedy2.  When the subject line of my favorite online devotionals looks like this, twice in one day, I’d best pay attention. (And, because this topic was in the subject line of many devotionals and blog posts and conversations this month, you can bet my attention is rapt!)  Tongue_Trouble_Missindeedy3. Also, I learned that reading  is still my favorite thing to do. Most recently, I’ve read Every Little Thing by Deidra Riggs, Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown, For the Love by Jen Hatmaker, and Taming the To-Do List, by Glynnis Whitwer. All impacted me greatly. But, this one line from Every Little Thing has been banging around in my head for a week:  “Some seasons of life are like that, with each moment marking a small victory, primarily because we survived it.”  AMEN! EveryLittleThing_Missindeedy4. Sweetboy is old enough to “watch” Sweetgirl for an hour, now,  while I run out to the grocery store (or Target). However, Sweetgirl has dutifully informed us that her brother is a “Not-So-Great Babysitter”. Upon further questioning, we found out that this is because he will not play Princess Palace Pets with her.  We’ve realized her gifting does not lie in determining the quality of a babysitter.
  2. Lastly, (even though it says number 2, because even my computer won’t listen today!) I learned that friendships require time, but that time requires careful consideration. I’m pretty sure we all know that, of course. But, it was brought home to me when I started filling in all of the commitments that I had over the course of the month. I saw lots of lunches and breakfasts and coffees with lots of wonderful beautiful friends, but hardly any white space for my own soul to breathe on its own. Everyone in this household suffers when mama doesn’t have space for her soul to breathe. Anyone else? Now, this realization is going to take some thinking through because, friendships! But, for now, I see that I can’t sustain the pouring out without more time and space to fill up. 

There you have it. Try to contain your enthusiasm for all the sharing. If you’d like to read some far more fabulous lessons learned in September, head on over to Emily P. Freeman’s blog and check them out.

What did you learn last month?

I Want The King for My Friend

I’ve been working my way through a book that has done something incredible in my life.

It has dried up my words.

And, honestly? I’m okay with that.

Reading Keep It Shut, by Karen Ehman, has been life-altering. My brain, and by extension, the mouth that’s connected to it, have experienced some blissful radio silence. I’m not even going to try to guess the number of people around me, who also consider this new frequency blissful.

I’m a gap-filler, you see. If there is a lull in conversation, I’m your girl. When the small talk at a party dwindles, I jump right in. In the midst of an awkward situation and not sure what to say next? Count on me!

Usually, these aren’t necessarily bad things.

But sometimes, they aren’t really good things, either.

The abundance of words that accumulates within me doesn’t actually mean that I need to voice every single one of them.

Amen? (Not you, Nana. We all know you’re saying “AMEN!”)

Not much is added to a filling-the-gap moment that is true, noble, right, pure, or lovely. Certainly not much is admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. So, what exactly am I adding to conversations?

That is the ultimate question I’ve been asking myself, lately.

For the first time in probably ever, I see that many of my words aren’t attaching anything of benefit to the discussion. And, that’s not to discount the meaningful chats I have with people I care about. Nor does it mean that I need to throw out the fun back-and-forths I might have with friends and acquaintances.

Pause_Before_Piping_Up_KIS_Missindeedy

It is, however, a fantastic reason to do a lot more pausing before piping up. It’s also a great reason to do a little more listening with those two ears of mine and a lot less talking with that one mouth.

The more listening I do, the more I see what I haven’t seen as my lips were moving. The hurting neighbor. The angry relative. The hesitant friend. There are hearts that I am hearing, that I’ve never even known were trying to talk.

Allow my inner 80’s teen to re-emerge, please? DUDE!

There is no small beauty in a heart that is finally heard.

Don’t we all know this to be true? What relief, what joy, what profound satisfaction in our souls when some beautiful ear finally bends to hear?

Maybe the most amazing thing of all is that as I speak with more grace, which means more listening before speaking, my friendships will deepen. Friends that I long to connect with – deeply hear from and be heard by – will appear.

How do I know?

“Whoever loves pure thoughts and kind words will have even the king as a friend.”

Even The King.

I don’t know about you, but, I want The King for my friend.

Yes indeedy.

Why Are You Looking for Crickets?

Maybe, because you’re hearing them around here, lately?

‘Tis true.

But, for good reason.  (More on that on Wednesday!)

For now, if you’ve been missing me (and really, I’d expect nothing less. JUST KIDDING!), you can find me over at Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies  as part of the Teaching Team for 2015. As we work our way through a study of Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman, you’ll find me over there. A lot. Click here to hop over and check it out.

In the meantime, I wanted to share something amazing that’s happened since my reading of this book.

But, you’ll have to come on back here, on Wednesday, to read about it.

So, see you soon?

I really hope so!

Yes indeedy!

Let’s Learn to Zip It, Shall We?

My mouth gets me into trouble. Anyone else?

A lot. Tell me I’m not alone, here!

Really, though, it’s a head problem. Can I get an amen?

And, if I’m being completely honest, it’s a heart problem. Oh, yes indeedy.

I’ve always longed to be one of those wise women who say very little. You know the ones… they don’t often speak their mind, but when they do, WHOA NELLY, it’s important! Alas, God apparently thought better of that idea. In fact, I often wonder why He allows me to speak at all!

But, He does. In His completely unfathomable infinite wisdom, He gives me the freedom to speak the words in my head.

Here’s what I’ve found to be true: if I don’t check those words against His Word, what tumbles from my mouth can be a) too much, b) too loud, c) too soon, or d) all of the above.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to find out that the next book that Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Studies is going to work through has to do with exactly this issue!

Hallay-glorious-lou-ya!

And, sweet Moses, do I ever need it!

On January 26th, over here, we will begin a study of Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman. The author provides phenomenal insight into “What to say, how to say it, and when to say nothing at all”. (I believe I especially need help with that last one. Also, Sweetman seems a bit too happy that we are studying this particular book.)

I’ve had the privilege of reading Keep It Shut over the last month. There are far too many gems, throughout, to pick just one. (Or, ten!) In fact, there is so much wisdom packed into this book, that I would like to heartily encourage you to pick up a copy and join the study.

You can do that here.

You can buy the book here.

And, if you do decide to join the 20,000 plus people who’ve signed up already, you may just see me hanging around on the Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies blog.

Yes, you might just.

And we can learn to zip it together.

What do you say to that?

(Psst… say yes.)

I hope to see you there!

KISBook_Missindeedy

How to Square a Circle and A Giveaway

If you arrived here looking for a mathematical answer to the ancient problem of constructing a square within the confines of a circle, I’m sorry.

If your eyes just glazed over because you knew you weren’t coming here for any such explanation, hang tight!

According to Wikipedia, “The expression “squaring the circle” is sometimes used as a metaphor for trying to do the impossible.”

I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

Trying to do the impossible.

And, the evidence that I’ve been attempting to do something that cannot be done is in my inability to figure out which are the best things and which things are just good.

I’m learning that saying yes to whatever floats my boat doesn’t, as it turns out, make me any happier. It only makes me tireder.

It makes me more easily aggravated and far less easily amused.

None of these are healthy or helpful.

My sweet friends, lean in please. We can’t do it all.

I know… bummer, right?

Here’s the good news, though – we don’t have to!

What so many of us fail to realize is that all we do, indeed, have to do is become better at discerning the difference between better and best.

The_Best_Yes_Giveaway_Missindeedy

Taking an honest inventory of the resources God’s given me, the time He’s allotted me, and the abilities He’s gifted me, I’m seeing a pattern of decision-making.  And, the pattern I’m seeing over here? It’s just not beneficial.

Not for me, not for my family, and not for making the most out of the time that I’ve been given here on this earth.

So, in an effort to start discerning which is best, I’m participating in Proverbs 31 Ministries’ newest Online Bible Study. It’s focused on Lysa TerKeurst’s new book The Best Yes. Although the study began on Monday, you are welcome to join us, for free. Just click the words Proverbs 31 Ministries above.

Maybe, you like the sound of this book, but just want to read it on your own and at your own pace. Please, go do that!

This book is packed with practical applications. Although I’m only halfway through it, I’m gathering wisdom as I go.

It may not be squaring a circle, but my lines from here to there are getting a little straighter each day.

Yes indeedy!

The Giveaway: Before you run off, leave me a comment below and you’ll be entered to win one of two copies of The Best Yes. There will be two winners picked at random through Random Generator. Contest ends Friday, September 26th, at 8:00 pm EST.

When To Consult Your GPS

“What you do now is take a left down there at the blinking light.  Go about a mile and some change (what does that even mean?) and then take a right.  Keep on till you see the purple polka-dotted windmill, then bear left at the fork in the river. As soon as you see the unicorn, it’ll point you in the right direction.”

Have you ever received directions like this?

Being lost is frustrating enough.  Asking for directions and then receiving ones that don’t seem quite right, doesn’t help.

Every so often, I find that my map’s directions aren’t clear enough.  Maybe the terrain isn’t exactly as the map described it to be. It could be that I simply missed the street sign that I was supposed to be looking for. Possibly, new roads have been created since the map was published.

Whatever the case, every once in a while, I find myself lost.

WrongRoad_CSLewis_Missindeedy

Stopping to ask for directions is usually very helpful. And, although most of the people trying to help me along are well intentioned, being human and all, they’re bound to muck it up.

And when that happens? I pull out that map and get to readjusting my course.

Or, I ask Siri.

“Recalculating route,” is what her voice will tell me she’s doing.

That’s a good word, right there.

When I get off the beaten path, and I feel in my very soul that it’s a path that’s not really meant for me, I need to get some better directions.

Some Divine Direction.

So, I go to my Spiritual GPS.

The One Map that is always exactly right.

Every. Single. Time.

GPS might stand for “Global Positioning System” in this earthly world, but where This Map is concerned, GPS stands for something altogether different.

G – God-given

P – Prayerfully provided

S – Strategy

And the Lord knows that I need it! After all, it was He who created me in all of my Directionally Challenged wonderfulness. It was He who provided me with a stubborn streak dogged determination.  Put those two things together when you are traveling along and it equals needs God’s guidance!

Lots.

Oh, yes indeedy.

I’ve become wise to the fact that when I get to feeling lost, I need to quickly consult my Spiritual GPS.

And, when I do?

That unicorn can eat my dust!

No Longer Damaged Goods

They invited me to meet with them after Bible study ended. This group of women,  each one deeply respected and admired for their ability to lead women, were issuing me an invitation to join their team.  Me!

But then, they leveled me with this statement: “We have faith in your ability to lead this ministry.”

And, as I looked around at each pair of wise, mature, and gracious eyes, I realized there was one huge problem.

I didn’t.

My guilt and shame over my past made me feel out of my depth for anything other than participation. I was sure that they needed someone further along in this journey of faith, more mature in their understanding of God’s Word, or at the very least, not scared witless.

So I thought.

In chapter 5 of Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray, he speaks to the “God who heals damaged people”.

Do you consider yourself damaged goods?

damaged_missindeedy

I surely did.

Now, I’m in awe of The God that takes every damaged bit of me and turns me into a “trophy of grace”*.

Jesus wants to make me a trophy of His grace.

He wants to make YOU a trophy of His grace!

He already sees you that way.

If that doesn’t make you want to leap up and fist pump the air with joy and thanksgiving, I’m not sure what could!

Each time I read these Words, waves and waves of grace wash over my dinged and damaged heart:

Romans5_8_MissindeedyLast night, while my thoughts turned dark and shameful, He died for me.

Last month, when I thought ugly thoughts and used harsh words, He died for me.

Last year, as I struggled to stay out of the pit, failing again and again, He died for me.

He died that I might stand on knock-kneed wobbly legs and lead a group of women into a deeper love for His Truth. For four years! He took so very many moments that I thought made me damaged goods and turned them into something useful.  He filled in my dings with His Grace and Truth and Love.

Because, He is Grace and Truth and Love.

Even now, I long to get it right, but so often get it wrong.

But, His love never fails.

It never gives up.

Those skeletons in my closet? He knew.

That shameful behavior?

He knows.

And He’s still right here, loving me anyway.

That is grace.

He is grace!

Admitting that I desperately need that, need Him, in my life?

Well, that takes me from damaged goods to trophy of grace, in one fell swoop!

Yes indeedy.

Textured Ribbon_G7

Today’s post is a contribution to the blog hop over at Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study of Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray. Click the button below to join the conversation.

OBSBlogHop*The phrase “trophy of grace” was created by Derwin L. Gray, author of Limitless Life.

One Messy Morning

Syrup.

It was my undoing the other morning.

For what felt like the first time the entire school year, we were all dressed and ready to head out the door on time.

“Can I have a waffle before I go, mama?  I’m still hungry” requested my littlest, soon to graduate from Kindergarten. Lord, hold me!

We had time. I quickly popped in one of those fluffy little toaster waffles and got to work filling a small dipping bowl with syrup.  Surely, that would contain the mess.

“I can’t find my library books mom!”, shouted the older one from the landing.

Off I went to help round-up books.

That he miraculously remembered, five frustrating minutes later, were never actually brought into the house.

“Oh yeah! We didn’t go to library last week. Huh. I guess I don’t have to worry about it after all.”

Great.

“Mama! I got syrup on my shirt!”

Deep breath…

“And in my hair! YOU forgot to put my hair up first, mama!”

Any hopes I had of getting out the door on time, and unfrazzled, were now officially dashed.

Attempting to be helpful, that sweet little girl “set” her syrup dipping bowl, her ceramic syrup dipping bowl, into the sink.

Where it proceeded to shatter into about twenty-three pieces.

I lost just the tiniest bit of patience.

And exploded.

“You children must take responsibility for these things!”, I all but shrieked.

Just great.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s experienced a morning, or ten, like this?

It all made for a very heavy heart as the kids scooted out of the car in the carpool line.  My hurried “Bye! I love yo-” as the door slammed shut only served to make the heaviness settle deeper.

But then…

Then, I got home and opened up Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray and fixed my eyes on this:

“God supernaturally fulfills His purposes through humanity’s messy, self-determined actions.”

One sentence!

I only had to read one sentence to be reminded that I am already one of God’s treasured Masterpieces.

God knew.

He knew I needed that exact sentence at that exact moment to usher hope right back into my day.

Oh, yes indeedy!

He knew that every self-determined word out of my mouth that messy morning would be able to be turned around, for His glory.

And that brought me immense comfort.

As my children got off the bus that afternoon, I hugged them tightly.

“I’m sorry about this morning, guys. Mama makes mistakes.  God showed me today that He knew that was going to happen and that it’s okay.  He still loves me. And I love you. TONS!”

Both kids looked at me like I had sprouted a flower out of my ear.

That’s okay.

They hugged me back and started chattering away about their day.

I realized, again, that although I may not be able to see how that messy morning fits into the masterpiece God is creating with my life, He surely is.

And that’s a great comfort to me.

Because, I’ve no doubt that I have other messy mornings, and afternoons, and evenings, in my future.

But…

we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus…”  Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

Messy mornings, and all!

We’re talking about how God makes a masterpiece out of our messes over at the P31 Ministries Online Bible Study Blog Hop today.  If you’d like to get more encouragement, click the button below.

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Rip It Off

“Only God knows how many dreams have been killed at the altar of fear.”

-Derwin Gray, Limitless Life

Fear is no respecter of circumstance.  It just isn’t. It will have its way no matter how well prepared one thinks they are.

Like, when I wax my upper lip.  (Yep. I’m going there. Just for a minute.)  I can ice that area.  I can repeat my mantra, “I’ve birthed two babies. I can DO THIS!”.  I can do everything I can do to prepare myself for that rip.

Until it comes time to do it.

And then, it sometimes takes a knock at the front door by the UPS man to get me to just do it, for crying out loud!

There are other things in my life that I let fear keep me from doing.

The author of Limitless Life, Derwin Gray, goes on from the quote I used up there to say, “It must break His [God’s] heart to see dreams He has placed in so many people’s hearts go unrealized because we have more faith in fear than in Him.” 

Ouch.

That quote couldn’t cut deeper into the heart of the fear issue in my life, if it had been written only for me.

But it wasn’t written just for me. This book is a powerful tool written for any of us that are looking for ways to live life unbound by the labels that have no place in our lives, anymore. And maybe, they never had any place in our lives, at all!

This book is helping me to see that I still, after all my blustering on about following dreams and being redeemed, I still haven’t ripped that “Afraid” label fully off!

It’s like that tender little bit of upper lip that’s right under my nose. I’ve already gone and done the whole blasted thing, except that one last area.  But, I can’t make myself rip that last bit off.

And, why not?

Fear.

It is time to rip off that last bit of the old label of “Afraid” and be willing to let God replace it with ones that He deems worthy.

Because He has redeemed me!

He has declared me worthy of a new label!

And I am, finally, fully aware that I need new labels stitched into my heart.

True labels.

I’ve written before about the power that I think words have to help someone sort out the messes in life.  I’ve also talked a lot about the importance of following the dreams that seem to have been planted within our hearts.

And I’ve slacked off of doing either one of those, lately.

Seeing those dreams start to push through the hard crusty fear that took up residence for too long in my heart is a gift. I want to claim the labels of “Worthy” and “Able”. I want to let them propel me toward more of living the life that God has given me to live.

For me, that means that I want to keep writing my story.

For some of us Writerly types, courage comes not in the knowledge that our words will end up out in public, but in the knowing that we finally got them out.  Somewhere. Out of the shrunken heart-shaped prison that held them there. Enslaved.

But I am free.

It’s high time I let my words prove it!

P31_LL_Missindeedy

Yes, indeedy.  I do believe I will.

How about you?  Do you need to move from Afraid to Courageous?  If you’d like some more inspiration to do just that, consider joining in with the newly begun Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study of Limitless Life, by Derwin Gray.  Click the button below to see what others thought about the labels we wear and the community we share!

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