I’m at The Glorious Table Today!

I’m pulling up a new chair at The Glorious Table. Its refreshing, encouraging, and beautiful. Will you join me?

To pull up your chair, click here. Take a look around, find some encouragement, and don’t forget to subscribe! Follow us on social media so you can sit with us every day.

You’re always welcome at this table!

 

 

Three Word Instructions to Simplify Life: What a Fitted Sheet Taught me About Life’s Instruction Book

Fitted sheets. They frustrate me in so many ways. They shift and bulge on the bed. To fold one neatly requires four hands and an hour of time. And the bending and stretching required to put it on the bed burns the calorie equivalent of the candy bar I eat when I’m done. But the most frustrating part of my fitted sheet is determining its direction!

The first corner is easy. Nearly every stretch to the second corner comes up short. I inevitably start with the wrong corner. Just yesterday my sheet changing started this way again. But when I ran my fingers down the edge I felt a tag brush between my fingers. Curiously I paused to take a peek.“Top or Bottom.”

A smirk crossed my lips instantly. How many times have I skipped passed this tiny treat? Sewn right into the hemline in three simple words is the solution to many moments of frustration.

As I fixed my sheets I began to think about other sources of petty annoyance and frustration. I wondered what three word solutions I might find tucked in each situation. Have I overlooked the simple instructions tucked right inside?

 

If everything in life carried an instruction label we may feel more prepared. More able. More confident in our ability.

Life’s edges do not have tags of instruction, which often leads to struggle. Success isn’t clearly defined by top or bottom. In or out. There is not one right way of doing something. In fact, the individuality of the human mind allows us to get an equivalent positive result by more than one method. You and I can take two different approaches to the same task and both become successful.

So, then, how do we find the instructions for life? How do we know what is right and what is wrong? How do we know we are doing well?

Not by judging another.

Not by comparing our path to another’s.

And not by the cultural definitions of successful.

We must look at the instructions for life given to us in the Bible. Burlap to Cashmere, a Christian rock band from the late 1990s, recorded a hit song using the acronym “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth,” for Bible. The Bible is packed with advice and instructions on how to live life.  

Some even come in the simple three word format:

God is love. (1 John 4:16)

He is able. (Hebrews 7:25)

Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Fear no evil. (Psalm 23:4)

Live in peace. (1 Corinthians 7:15)

Shine your light. (Matthew 5:16)

Every thought captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Love one another. (John 13:34)

Feed my sheep. (John 21:17)

Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Love your neighbor. (Matthew 22:39)

Love your enemy. (Matthew 5:44)

Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4)

The simple three words of instruction I found in the crease of my sheet eased my struggles of bed-making, but it is still a challenge. It is a starting point. A beginning. This week I choose to start my days with some of the three-word instructions of the Bible. It may not take away all of my struggle, but it is the beginning of a life well lived.

What three-word instruction can you put into practice this week to ease your struggles? Comment below, or join me on facebook to take part in the conversation.

 

Failure Keeps Me Going

Failure is the reason I keep going.

Yet another rejection deadline has passed, and in the publishing world no news is bad news.  The frustration is strong, and I want to throw in the towel- but that just leads to more laundry!

It seems as if everything I do is like banging my head on a brick wall- it gets me nowhere and it hurts! I know I have potential… I just can’t get others to see it! So I begin to make a list of motivation- what gets me to press on when I feel like I’m sinking? Failure.

Yes, failure. And its impending threat from someone ready to point it out.

I once worked tirelessly to earn a national designation simply because a professor told me I couldn’t. I swam the length of an Olympic-size pool because a classmate doubted me.

This seems to be a common path for me. I fear being a failure. When the threat of failing is clear and present something in me turns up the desire for success. And when there is a person ready to point the “I told you so” finger at me it escalates even more!

So, after this recent round of rejection I told my beloved I was giving up. I just don’t seem to have what it takes. I had come to grips with it- I have had other dreams I’ve left behind, and this dream of writing will go down as an “I tried.” And the words of the past came blaring in like an incoming tornado, leaving a wake of motivation behind: “You’ll never make it.”

Those words seem to plague me all too often. Many of my previous posts have included them, I think. Yet tonight as I stood facing this most recent rejection I heard them in a different tone. A challenge. A dare.

“You’ll never be good enough” will become a personal challenge instead of a weight on my shoulders. This place of failure has dropped so perfectly in my timeline as to become a mantra for the next six month publishing timespan. Paul says that suffering or trouble leads to perseverance, character, and ultimately hope. (Rom 5:3-5). Trouble has come, perseverance is now, and character is coming. Let this next writing period become the development of character.

Failure may not be my choice, but it certainly motivates me to go after my hearts desires.

 

 

Holiday Recipe Swap!

Time to prep for the holidays! This time of year I am always looking for a new recipe. Do you have a favorite? Maybe its something unique. Or a family recipe passed down. Or maybe its a new twist on a holiday standard. Whatever it is, I’m sure its good! So, lets swap some goodness!

recipe-swap

Post your favorite recipe in the comments below, then scroll through to find something you want to try! Don’t forget to come back and let others know how it went!

Participating in The Thanks And The Giving? Why not whip up a treat and drop it by a friends house just to let her know you thought of her!

 

 

The Thanks and The Giving

November. The month that reminds us to be thankful. To count our blessings. To gather together and say thanks. Its a time to slow down and refocus on the life in front of us. As we settle in this first day of November I can’t help but feel challenged to do more. Not more things to do, but more thanks to give. More love to give. More giving. So, this year I will focus on the thanks and the giving.

thethanksandthegiving-1Yet what do I have to give? Everything. The whispered prayers of help I offer up when the pennies are short are answered with the word give. But what do I have to give? Everything! I have joy, peace,  and patience. I have love and Good News. I have kindness.

I can spread kindness like confetti.

I choose to give what I have. I choose to give every day of November. I choose to scatter kindness and love. I choose to focus on the thanks and the giving.

Want to join me? Head on over to my Facebook for daily suggestions all month. I’ve got some fun stuff stashed in the month, too!

Let’s spend November in the thanks and the giving.

#thethanksandthegiving

Stop Believing You are Not Enough

I drank the milk straight from the carton this morning. Someone left the smallest amount of milk possible in the bottom of the jug, and frankly I didn’t want to dirty a glass. So, I gracefully hid behind the refrigerator door, put the carton to my lips and downed it.

It felt good to break the rules of being a good housekeeper.

Recently I have found myself in the midst of friends openly admitting our shortcomings of being a homemaker. Tales of laundry piled high, unmade beds, and bathrooms that need cleaned. Hearing my friends authenticity has given me the comfort that I am not a failure! And because I want others to know they are not failing I found myself carrying one conversation to the next and letting my own authenticity and shortcomings exit my lips.

We as moms seem to think that we fail when we can’t keep up. And we complicate our own feelings by falling into the comparison trap- you know, so-and-so has four kids and I’m surestop-believing-you-are-not-enough she doesn’t have a single toy on the floor. Oh, and her kids sit still at the dinner table, too.

Remember when Martha was upset because Mary wasn’t helping to clean and cook? Jesus didn’t reprimand Mary and tell her she needed to sweep the floors. Nor did he compare her to Martha! No, he commended Mary for making the hard decision to do what was best at that time.

 

Friends- it doesn’t matter if you are a single woman or a mom of ten- stop believing you are not enough! Do what you can do when you can do it. Make the best decisions with your time. And celebrate the day when you get around to scrubbing the tub.
Break the perfection. Admit you are a not-so-great housewife. You don’t have to be perfect. You are enough.

And go drink the milk- the rebellion against perfection feels good!

Kids and Worship

One year. I’ve been worshiping in this church plant for one full year. I’ve learned a lot from the preaching, I’ve felt loved a lot from the people, and I have become happily involved in a variety of ways. Its been a really great place to heal a broken heart. And today the worship transformed into something amazing.

And it wasn’t a new song.

But lets back up for a minute.

My 3 children, my husband and I came here from a good sized church with a kids program with around 100 kids. And here, in this very young church plant, my children warrant nearly half the regular attending kids. Now I admit this worries me- particularly as my daughter enters the preteen years with no set of Godly girlfriends. (By the way- this is a place I am daily turning to God in prayer relying on his promise to work all things for the good… and its not easy!!) Not long after we began attending I began volunteering in the kids church. I quickly learned that our small group of kids are amazing and curious about God. They love to come and learn, and they ask really intense questions!

As the year progressed some of the kids began to come and sit near me (presumably to be near my kids). I love to watch them sit, giggle, chat, and sing together. Most Sundays its like a pre-church kids club hang out- they kinda just sit and watch as the adults do this thing we call worship.

Until this past Sunday.

The morning began as usually, with the same kids hanging around. As our worship pastor began I felt a little tap on my side, “Ms. Stacy, can I come in?” So all the kids squeezed in between me and my husband. And all together they began to sing. To praise. To worship.

Sure, they don’t know all the words and they can’t always read them off the screen. But they tried. And their voices aren’t mature enough to hit the right notes, but they cried out anyway. When the song changed one little guy looked at me and with so much excitement proclaimed, “I do know this one!” In that moment my heart melted.

A little tingle ran over me. I was watching our kids worship. Give their hearts and minds to the God who loves them. And they did it without reserve.

I want to worship like that- without hesitation, even when I don’t know all the words. I want to cry out with joy when I know the words. But more than that, I want to continue to see our kids worship. I hope to see these kids continue to grow and ask questions. I want to see their worship become trust and reliance on the God who is watching over them even now.

And let me continue to heal as I watch you work in them.

Its time for War

Far too long have I listened to the voice of evil tell me I am not good enough. I have let it choke the words right out of my writing, talk me down from big projects at work and home, convince me that I am a terrible mother, and keep me in my own little world of doubt.

But that ends now.

Three weeks ago I was ready to launch some new material and a big project. I worked hard for days reading, writing, and researching. But life gave me a few stumbles… a sick kid, a small car issue, extra hours at work. In those small tasks of life I let the enemy voice convince me that I shouldn’t be doing that writing and that  project anyway. I let myself believe I wasn’t good enough for it…

So, for three weeks I haven’t lifted a finger of progress on those materials.

A few days ago I began to think about all the ideas I have and what I want to do with them. My natural instinct is to think there is nothing good that I can do. Nobody wants to read my stuff. I have nothing new to give. And I am not worth a thing. And in that moment of doubt I felt the Spirits tug. “Its time to wage war like never before.”

So I went over that list of ideas again, and I realized they are all God-given leads. If I silence the evil one’s seduction calling out “You’re not good enough,” I will hear the voice whispering, “With Me all things are possible, and all the things you do in My Name will result in goodness.”

I’ve listened to the enemy say “You’re not good enough!” far too long.

I've listened to the enemy sayfar too long.

Its time I secure my armor and prepare for an epic battle. I refuse to believe the lies any longer. I refuse to believe that I am unworthy. I refuse to believe I have nothing to offer in this world.

Are you with me on this? Is the enemy shouting something at you that is keeping you from hearing God’s whispers?

Prepare your armor. Its time to fight.

A Perfect God in my Imperfect World

Back in the day Joan Osbourne recorded the song, “What if God was One of Us,” where she poses that question- What if God were one of us? Just a slob like one of us?  Just a stranger on a bus tryin’ to make his way home?

 

Too often we don’t want to imagine our Holy God as a stranger on a bus. We have a hard time seeing him as a “slob” since he is called perfect.

 

Instead we put God in a tight box. We pack it with the beautiful language of the 16th century, touch it with white gloves, and dare not to let him see us as a mess.

 

But let me ask you this: what do you think the world was like when Jesus walked it? He walked the dirty streets as a simple man from a town of the outcasts. He didn’t speak in fancy words, dress in the best robes, or even hang with the respected leaders. He was a carpenter who said things that were outrageous. He touched dirt and dirty people. He hung with the outcasts, wandered from town to town, and was despised by the leaders of the day.

 

And yet He was perfect.

 

You see, perfect has no bearing on clean. Or messy. Jesus’ perfection is a part of his being, not a lifestyle.

 

For us to be a bit messy, or a little dirty, is not sinful. If you leave that mess in the kitchen because you choose to do something God-honoring it is going to be okay. If you choose to read the ESV translation because it makes more sense to you, God will be delighted because you are spending your time with him! And if you kneel at His feet in your yoga pants and dirty hair, He is going to embrace you for being His child. Its a personal relationship, and God knows just who you are anyway.
Don’t get yourself stuck on the little things. Even in His perfection, He simply wants all that you have to offer in its imperfect form.

Its time to clean out the Junk drawer!

It’s beyond capacity. It’s overflowing with random projects, school papers, craft materials, and candy wrappers from my secret stash. I was looking for something the other day and pulled open this overflowing junk drawer to find myself even more frustrated as a result of the overflow of mismatch that poured out. And instead of calmly sorting through the stuff I did what every mom of young ones did… I yelled. And then I shut it. And somehow I have a far fetched hope that the next time I open it will be different.

 

But it won’t.

 

Later that night as I sulked in my bad mood I began to think about some of the junk in my mental drawer. And, like the physical drawer in my house, my mental and emotional drawer is packed with old stuff, new ideas that have been halted, and the trash that I am trying to hide from others. And I closed it with the same hope I had for the drawer in the house… the hope that next time I open it I will see neat and tidy with no garbage.

 

But I won’t.

 

Too often we want to be neat and tidy. We want our house to be clean and organized, our schedules to be perfectly planned, and everything to be perfect for others to see. So when something on the counter is just not fitting that image we toss it in the junk drawer and shut it out of sight.

 

In our minds we do the same. We suppress our emotional distress so that on the outside we appear happy and relaxed, we shove our “Im not good enough” thoughts to the back hoping nobody will see them, and we hide our spiritual struggles just out of sight of our friends and family. And when we can shut the drawer we are able to put on our game face and act as if we are living our dreams.

 

And somehow it works until our drawer is so overflowing its pouring out the sides so much that we trip. We stumble over something ordinary because of something we tried to shove into our “don’t let them see me this way” drawer.

 

So let’s take a minute to organize that internal junk drawer into truth and garbage.

 

Empty out the thoughts of perfection because we all fall short (Rom 3:23). Empty out the thoughts of not good enough, because you can do anything with Christ in you (Phl 4:13). Get rid of the comparison to others, because you are God’s unique creation (Eph 2:10). And ditch the idea that you are not worth it, because Christ paid for you with His blood when you were at your worst (Rom 5:8).

 

Now fill that internal drawer with this: God’s love for you is so perfect, so complete, and so deep that nothing in this world can take it away- not even your own fear!(Rom 8:35, 1 John 4:9). He created you unique, to be YOU, and to be His (Psl 139:13, 1John 3:1).

Let’s declare this week as Junk Free Week. Every night empty out that internal junk drawer by spending some time in your Father’s graces, turning over all your worries and emptying any of your past. Turn it all over so you will stop tripping over it. And let Jesus fill that entire drawer with love and promises.

 

He will.

 

We will save that junk drawer in the kitchen for next week.