Saturday, August 29, 2015

The grace of God in my life - received daily

"Today I feel inadequate.  I feel tired, sad and overwhelmed.  Today I don't want to be mom.  I don't want to clean my house, put stuff away, set up the tent (which is wet from camping) or settle arguments.   I definitely don't want to get out the paint spinner Mikaiah is begging me to play with.
      I don't want to explain why I did something totally stupid (set up the tent in the wrong order - which as stated before I didn't want to do in the first place - and broke a pole.)  
      I don't want to cook dinner, think about cooking dinner, (not to mention lunch) and I don't want to talk to anyone under the age of 20.  Today I want to be selfish and disappear and not do anything.  But I won't .  I will pick myself up and take care of my children and my house."
     This is a journal entry I wrote this past monday at 10 am.  I had woken up early to have quiet time, and my children woke up ten minutes later.  I had not put away camping stuff or cleaned up from the day before (unusual for me, but I was too tired) and thus had a large mess and even bigger list of "to do's" than normal.  At this point in the day I was completely discouraged.  Then, as I was writing that last sentence a friend knocked on the door.  She had come to ask if I could babysit her daughter, but upon seeing me changed her mind and prayed for me instead.  Later a good friend came by with her girls (who entertained mine) and encouraged me as well. This is the grace of God in my life. Not that I am superhuman, or that I always have everything under control, but that he gives me the grace to do what I need to do and then blesses me abundantly on top of it - if I have the eyes to see it.
       My day was not perfect from then on out, my children still argued and I spilled an entire box of baking soda on the kitchen floor, but I was strengthened from within and that was just what I needed that day.  So glad to know I am never, ever alone.  
       Please note that I do not like sharing my flaws with everyone, I would rather pretend I have it all together, but that's not reality and I think we all need to know at times that we are not alone.  We are all flawed and that's okay, because we have a perfect savior.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rising above mediocrity

    All my life I have been an average girl.  Average, or just above average in pretty much everything I did.  Now before you think I'm cocky let me tell you there are a lot of things that I am way below average at, but have never really pursued, even if I've done them from time to time.  For example, pretty much anything musical would go in that category, though I do love music and appreciate it from afar.  I was an average student, athlete, and game player.  I played a lot of sports but wasn't great at any of them.  I actually swam for 8 years, but always leveled at the top of the JV and bottom of the Varsity.   I have never been super popular, but always had good friends I could rely on.  I like games, but don't always win, nor do I feel I have to.  I have never been a prefectionist, and I don't really want to be one, though the ability to do quality work when I choose to is something I am working on.  I like being okay with "a good effort," that is usually enough for me. I have never considered myself competitive, but the truth is that I would rather be okay with losing than put in the effort needed to win.  I have never been described as thin or super fit, but most of my growing up years I was pretty strong and for a while had pretty sweet biceps (thank you swim team for that)  and I was okay with that.
      There is absolutely nothing wrong with being average or mediocre at some things, however, I have found that I have become so "okay" with not ever doing anything really well that I have lost all drive to do better.  I will push hard to reach a goal, to get to that above average spot, and then I would coast.  I remember realizing that I could swim my entire two hour practice without ever getting really winded or pushing myself.  I could have kept on swimming for another two hours, I was just coasting along.  While this takes a lot of work to achieve, it should not however have been my goal.  When you stop pushing yourself, you stop improving, and when you stop improving, inevitably you begin to slip.     
      Lately I have been feeling the building affects of years of "slipping" coming down on me, in several areas of my life.   When I lived in Bend, Oregon I was single, I lived with active roommates, in an extremely active community.  Going cross country skiing, hiking or rock climbing were second nature.  I loved it.  I kept myself busy, but not too busy.  I worked as a nanny, I hung out with my friends, I had quiet evenings to journal and spend time with the Lord, and I was aware of the food I put into my body.   In short, I was living a pretty healthy life.
       Fast forward six years, one husband, three children and lots of legitimate excuses and I struggle just to go for regular walks with my kids.  It's a lot of work to wrangle three kiddos in between nap times, meal times, and errands.  I go through phases where I do really great, I go to the gym, I ride bikes, I rid myself of eating evil sugar and carbs, and I feel great.  Usually however, I get burnt out.  After a month or two (and possibly another pregnancy or child later)  I shut down completely.  I'm just going to "take a short break" I say.  I run on high and short circuit, often leaving myself feeling the same or worse than before.  Every time I try again I struggle to push all of those past failures out of my head.  Every. Single. Time.  Man that's hard.  Failure seems to be my worst enemy and my biggest fear.  If you're not going to succeed, why try? Right?  It takes a lot of effort to try.
     This is where I find myself these days, struggling with the will to go past being borderline unhealthy and inactive (physically and spiritually. ) Struggling to push myself to risk failing...again.  I wish that I could isolate these areas in my life.  That I could be failing in one area, such as eating well, but would be super active and could make up the lack.  Or at least that I could be focusing on what the Lord is showing me in my life and spending time listening to him, even if I wasn't very active.  Somehow though, all these disciplines seem linked together for me.  When I spend time with the Lord, I am more motivated to exercise, and when I exercise I am more motivated to eat well, and when I do all these things, I am a kinder, more understanding mother, wife, and friend. The reverse is also true.  So why do I spend so much time on the downward spiral?  In a world that thrives on instant gratification being disciplined and pushing oneself, while admired, are not things we tend to strive towards.  Too much work.  We are always looking for short cuts.  The problem with using too many short cuts is that eventually you forget how not to use them, and when you try to do something the hard way you often find that you don't know how.
    So where does that leave me?  I have trained myself to "just get by" and now that I know I need to change I barely know where to start.  Ahhhh! But we are not alone!  Today I was reading in Ephesians 3:14-21 and it says " For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
      I do not need to give up!  I do not need to fail.  If he who created this earth has strengthened me in my inner being than I need to embrace the call of God on my life, to be healthy spiritually and physically so that I can love and serve others to the best of my ability.   If I give all that I am to my children and to the people around me, but have nothing left to push myself to be where I need to be than my balance is off and something needs to change.  Right now the first thing I'm changing is the focus I have put on the lie that I will never succeed.  I cast that off and step one foot at a time, staring down my weaknesses and pushing myself past this mediocre place in which I have settled.  Today I went for a swim, and that was a start.  A small start, but a start.  So please, if you see me falter and start to settle, encourage me onward.  I don't need you to give me excuses why it's okay not to push myself (I have enough excuses on my own.) I know I can do more. I know that he who is in me is greater than my weaknesses.   I just need a gentle push and maybe someone to come beside me.