Being OK with Me — Scrubbing the Deck

Being OK with Me.I am in the process of re-staining our front porch steps and our back deck. We’ve lived in our house for 10  years now. It’s my third time tackling this project, so I know what to expect. I can’t just buy some stain and slop it on and think everything will turn out OK. There is a process, and like any home improvement project, it always takes longer than you think it should.

It’s kind of like the process of Being OK with Me. I can’t just rub on some new cream or say some magic words to make everything OK. I thought I would start with talking about our identity in Christ — digging into God’s Word and proclaiming the truth found in Scripture. Then I started to stain my deck and realized that being OK with ourselves is much like the deck staining process. First, I must do the prep-work, otherwise the stain won’t stick.

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So, first we need to clear away the clutter, sweep a way the dirt and scrub away the grime. We might have to get on our hands and knees. Some areas will need extra scrubbing. It’s going to be hard work.

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I used an old bottle of deck cleaner to start my staining process, and it didn’t get very far. There is a distinct line where I’ve gotten some wood clean and others not. the areas that have been cleaned are already looking so much better. I hope the same happens as we explore the obstacles that keep us from Being OK with Me. We’ll take a look at the clutter and dirt and start to scrub away the grime. The bare wood will show through, and it will look so much better.

And, more importantly, the bare wood will be ready for the stain. It will soak it in. It will look beautiful.

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Being OK with Me

Being OK with Me Banner

I’m OK with myself. Really, I am. The title up there might indicate I don’t like myself very much. Most of the time, I’m OK with me. I see my strengths and weaknesses. I see how I’ve changed and grown over the years. I generally feel contentment about who I am, where I am and what I do.

But.

But, there is also this nagging feeling that I am not enough. I should be more or do more. I should fix something. I should try harder. There is a shadow following me around whispering, “I should. I should. I should.”

I know I’m not alone. I sense you feel it, too. I hear it when you talk about how you’re failing. I see it when you stand on the edge, wondering if you fit.  I know because, well, me too. I lay in my bed wondering what you think of me after our conversation earlier in the day. I cringe when you compare yourself to me, yet turn around and compare myself to you.

I read about it almost weekly on the internet. On a recent day, I came across two such posts. They were published on different days, but I stumbled upon them the same day.

I read these words and shout, “Amen!” Phrases that never come out of my mouth start popping into my head. “Preach it, Sista!” “You go, Girl!” You get the idea. The words of those posts are full of truth. They sooth and encourage, and I embrace them. I’m OK with me. For a few hours. Or maybe even a whole day.

But the shadow catches up to me again. I grasp for the truth, but it slips through my fingers.

My husband is leading a couple groups through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University this fall. At the end of the first DVD session, Dave says, “What would happen to the kingdom of God if the people of God were out of debt? How much of this world could we, as believers, change?”

I wonder the same about women. What could the women of God — the daughters of Christ — do for the kingdom of God if we were all OK with ourselves? How could God use us if I was OK with me and you were OK with you?

I want to recognize areas for growth and change in my life without a sense of shame.

I want to celebrate your gifts and successes without feeling like I’m not enough.

I want to lay in my bed praying for you, not worrying about what I said to you earlier in the day.

I want to compare my “right now” to my “used to be” and not some unrealistic idea of perfection.

You, too? Let’s wrestle with this for 31 days.*

*I originally intended to participate in the 31 Days series, but I was unable to complete the series in 31 days. It is an on-going series here. Thank you for grace as I work to complete it.

31 Days: Being OK with Me

Being OK with Me.

I linked up at The Nesting Place for the annual 31 Days series. I attempted two 31 Days series, which was a very unrealistic goal. I’ve turned this into an on-going series I will contribute to for several months. Thank you for your grace.

Being OK with Me. (The introduction.)

A Disclaimer

Scrubbing the Deck

A Quote

A Theme Song

Being OK in this Culture

Book Review: You’re Already Amazing

I hear a missionary share about her work in Africa. I think, “Maybe I should go to Africa!”

I see a family with twelve children. I think, “Maybe I should have twelve kids!”

I read about a mom who cooks everything from scratch, homeschools her children, runs a business from home, has organized every square inch of her house, writes blog posts every day, and has a weekly date night with her husband, all while looking super cute in her thrift store finds. I think, “Maybe I should do all of that!”

It’s certainly okay to be inspired by someone’s story, challenged to re-think my life choices, or follow someone else’s example. But sometimes I’m working so hard to be like everybody else, that I forget to be who God made me to be. 

If you’ve ever felt the same, wondered what you should really be doing with your life, or wished you could just do life better, I recommend the book You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth.

And here’s the thing: we only get one you. There never has been, and never will be, another you in this world. God doesn’t have a backup plan or replacement policy. That’s why I feel so passionately about you being who you are and embracing it. We don’t need a copy of someone else–we need to the one and only, original you.

— Holley Gerth, You’re Already Amazing, pg. 180

God did not create me to go around trying to be like everyone else. He uniquely designed and gifted me for a purpose. I sometimes wish God would just send me an email and tell me what to do with my life. And while You’re Already Amazing is not an email from God, it is an encouraging book with plenty of words that likely would be included if God were to send you an email. {Grin.}

With a series of tools, questions and examples, Holley helps you better recognize and evaluate your strengths, skills, relational style, personality and more, all with a warm, conversational style that makes you feel like you are chatting at her kitchen table. She weaves in a bit of poetry and shares stories from the women she counsels, her friends and her own life. She addresses lies you believe about being perfect and comparing ourselves to others, and gives guidance for determining where God’s journey is taking you.

This book seems incredibly timely for me, as I ponder what to do with my life in the coming years when my kids will all be in school. It also seems like a great book to keep as a reference, to re-read when I’m questioning a decision or headed to a new season of life.

More than anything, this book left me feeling content to be me. Just me. Quirks, issues, imperfections and hopes included.

And, psssst! Do you know what? The same goes for you! You’re amazing!

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If you’d like to know more about the book, check out DaySpring’s site here.

For more about the author, check out HolleyGerth.com.

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*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of You’re Already Amazing in exchange for this review, however all opinions are mine. Gracias.

One Bite at a Time: Project 28

We’re jumping way ahead in the book One Bite at a Time today to tackle Project 28: Create a regular monthly budget. Doesn’t that sound fun and exciting?! This is a project that we already do, but have been bad at tracking in recent months, so it’s a good project to work on again. My husband is actually the coordinator right now for a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class at our church, so it was an assignment in our class, too. (A great class, by the way! I recommend it for all. Maybe even our government. 😉 But that’s another blog post.)

It's too bad Monopoly money isn't real.

A monthly budget is simply deciding ahead of time how you will spend your money. In One Bite at a Time, Tsh recommends a zero-based budget. You determine what your monthly income is and decide how each of those dollars will be spent until you get to zero.

A budget is simply telling your money where to go. It isn’t restricting you from having fun, nor is it sentencing you to spend money where you’d rather not. Your money will already be going somewhere. Planning ahead with a budget is taking charge of your finances, not letting your finances be in charge of you. — Tsh Oxenreider, The Basics Behind a Budget that Works, Simple Mom. June 29, 2009.

I can’t say that I love making a budget or tracking a budget or always sticking to a budget. However, I do like the peace that comes from knowing that we can take care of our family, give some to those in need, save for future needs and wants, and stay out of debt.

I’m not an expert on finances, so I’ll just stop talking right now and direct you elsewhere, if you are looking for more information.

Here are several blog posts from Simple Mom:

For financial advice from a Biblical perspective I recommend Dave Ramsey (he uses baby steps) and Crown Financial Ministries (they have the Crown Money Map).

Crown has a free online budget system called Crown Mvelopes. I happen to use and like Mint.com, which is also free.

There are a few other projects that deal with finances, so we have more money talk to come. Don’t get too excited! 😉

 

One Word 2012

I was standing in our dining room, sorting papers on the table and thinking about my year of grace. I wonder what my word for 2012 should be?

And, BAM! It was there. A word popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere.

Pffft. I can’t pick that word, I thought, almost laughing out loud. What?! Where did this come from? It’s just not fitting for me and my I’ll-stay-behind-the-scenes-please personality. 

My previous words of discipline, balance and grace were good, responsible, safe words. This one seemed risky.

Maybe my fear of the word is the very reason I should pick it. I argued with myself. (Or was I arguing with the word, or was it God? Did this word come from Him?) It’s only October, so I can still change my mind if the word doesn’t fit come January.

So, I made an agreement with the word, or the giver of the word (whoever that was), that maybe, just maybe, I would find time to entertain her in 2012. I whispered, barely letting myself hear, that my word might be … (is anyone looking?) … DANCE.

Just days after my dining room agreement, I helped at a party in my son’s second grade classroom. I was to help the head room mom at the candy walk station. Similar to the cake walk game, kids walked on numbers until the music stopped, and we played until everyone got one candy bar. The first group of kids had all received their candy and there was time before they moved to the next station, so the head room mom had an idea. “I’ll just keep playing the music and everybody can dance,” she happily proclaimed.

And dance they did. All of the kids, in all three groups that rotated through our station, freely moved, jumped and danced around the front of the classroom. The head room mom jumped right in, too, showing off crazy moves like the sprinkler and lawnmower. I clutched my bucket filled with numbers for the game and shuffled my feet back and forth, like a seventh grade boy at a junior high dance. How come I didn’t get assigned to the cookie making station? Or the Bingo game? I wondered. Is this some sort of joke?

My body wasn’t moving much, but loud thoughts were pounding in my head. Thoughts of fear and freedom and this strange longing to be more like the kids spinning around in front of me. Ok, ok! I thought. Maybe I do need this word. 

I haven’t signed up for a dance class or participated in a flash mob in a mall. Last year, I learned to run, and in doing so, learned much more about living life than the actual act of running. I suspect learning to dance will be similar. Yesterday, Emily Freeman wrote about being an artist. “Art isn’t so much the things we do but the way in which we do them,” she said.

It isn’t so much the way I dance, but the way in which I live. A life with a little less fear and a little more freedom to move with the music. Or at least that’s what I think at the beginning of the year. Maybe when December rolls around I’ll have to throw a dance party. 😉 (And I can’t believe I just wrote that in public. It will certainly be an interesting year!)

So, here we go, 2012! Let’s DANCE!

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I have not been very good at writing about my “word” for the year for the past three years, because I haven’t been very consistent at writing. But, I highly recommend the exercise of choosing a word for the year, even if you never write about it.

If you are interested in picking a word, or you already have and wonder what to do next, I suggest checking out these places:

Mandy at Messy Canvas had a great post called What Do I do With My Word?

One Word 365 is a community of One Worders (is that a word?) and a place to share your word. (I’ll be linking this post over there, too.)