Do NOT strive for perfection!

1 Thessalonians 2:12 (NIV)
“… Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

A friend of mine is struggling with the human side of being a Christian man. As Christians we strive to be deserving of the love our God has for us. We were made in His own image and we should live up to that perfection, right?

Some people are not aware; God does not expect perfection from us. Have you ever heard someone say ” I can’t believe she did that, and she calls herself a Christian”? I recently saw this post on Facebook; “Gods children do not lie. If u r a child of God and go to church to worship Him u shouldnt be starting choas!!”
Like, wow!!
Here are my top five thoughts on being Christian.
1. Christians are far more critical of themselves than God will ever be.
2. The only judges anyone should ever care about is God and those judges in our judicial system. So Facebook poster, you are forgiven but your words mean nothing to me.
3. God expects you to live your best life. Not be the best at everything. Not be perfect all the time. Just be you and be the best you everyday.
4. You will make mistakes! The trick is to ask for forgiveness and to learn from those mistakes.
5. God’s Grace is a powerful thing. To know at all times that as long as you are truly sorry and seek forgiveness God will forgive you even if other humans don’t show forgiveness.

So to my friends who struggle with their mistakes give yourself some Grace. Forgive yourself for the wrongs you’ve done. Start in this moment to be the best version of yourself in every minute. Do not strive for perfection.

P.S. You might see that I quote Dr. Suess often. Yes, he is my favorite author.

Enjoying a Renewed Spirit

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).

The other day I blogged that I feel lost. As with anything, facing your feelings gives them relevance. Examining my breakdown, helped me to give these feelings a voice. My overwhelming urge to take a lower paying job with less hours just because it gives me greater flexibility is not something I can financially think about right now.

My first task was to make a lateral move in my job. Instead of being responsible for a unit and doing the same rooms every day, now I float so I am on a different unit each day. It gives me the perception of flexibility and has made me a bit happier.

The second thing I did was to pick up a weekly calendar that was divided up for four different people. I outline the week with my kids and I. Also, I list the weekly menu on it. Our chores are listed there as well as any appointments we have. I have actually been using this system for a few weeks and I will be switching to a dry erase version in the new year.

When I take time for myself and have a relaxing bubble bath, I watch Youtube videos to learn new things and to time myself so I am not in there all night. I watched one the other day by Erin May Henry titled Ten Habits to Start before 2019

1. Do something new everyday
2. Declutter
3. Reframing
4. Meet new people
5. Start being honest with yourself
6. Get Organized
7. Budget and take control of your finances
8. Stretching or yoga
9. Journaling or Reflecting
10. Laugh

My top five, the ones that I am personally working on right now are:

1. Decluttering- make sure your environment is not sucking the creativity from your soul. My house has been in a constant state of construction for the past year or so. I need to just find myself a corner to call my own so I can GYST. (Get Your Shit Together *More about that in my next post).

2. Get organized- Use your planner and calendars together. If you write it, do it. I have been doing pretty well I just have to keep at it and do better.

3. Budget and take control of your finances- Know what you have and stick to your budget. This is the personal goal I have been trying to tackle all year and finally figured out last night what I have been doing wrong so its back to the drawing board for me.

4. Start your day with stretching or yoga- stretching keeps your body in balance, increases your energy and decreases the stiffness in your muscles.

5. Journaling or reflecting- “It’s really hard to feel empowered and motivated to move forward on your journey if you don’t know how far you’ve come.”

With that, I have a starting point of how to move forward. This blog post is a day late but I did it. Always be proud of the progress you make.

When I am lost

Jeremiah 1:9-10
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
To pluck up and break down,
To destroy and overthrow,
To build up and to plant.”

Everytime I get the urge to just open the bible at any random page, it surprises me that the words speak directly to me. Today is no exception. As a writer, my creativity is a gift from God. His words flow through my pen and my keyboard. For the past year I have felt the decline in my creativity. Words have been hard. My grief has somehow blocked my focus and possibly my faith.

A few weeks ago I broke.

It had been a year since my Alex, born to my stepdaughter seventeen weeks early, lost his long eight day fight.

I have been so preoccupied with achieving personal goals this year that I have lost every ounce of creativity left in me.

I started the year with a full time job to catch up on these bills and now I have no time for anything else. I have stopped volunteering. I have stopped writing. I feel like I have lost touch with who I really am.

I now need to pick up the pieces and move on. I need to prioritize my schedule so I have time for the things that are important to me. I need to make the time to write. I need to make the time to volunteer more. I need to realize and believe that my faith gives me the strength I need to do all things. Nothing is impossible with God.

Just look at everything I’ve been through already in my life. I can dig my way to the surface. I will find the woman I know is stuck inside.

TracyMarie

Dear TracyMarie,

I miss you. I am worried about you. Once upon a time your life was incomplete if you missed a Sunday at church, now I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve seen your smiling face.

We were supposed to meet for lunch several times but you cancel last minute; often while I am sitting at the restaurant waiting.

I remember in high school you used to tell me your dad was an alcoholic so you would never get drunk. Now that seems to be your weekly excuse.

I know relationships are a two way street. I know you want me to sleep over your apartment. You know alcohol and weed are not my thing, you are asking me into a world you know I feel uncomfortable.

I know love is blind.
I know you think he’s good to you.
I know you think he is your everything.

Can you see he controls how your money is spent?
Can you see the gifts you give far outweigh the gifts you receive?
Can you see he is pulling you away from your family and your friends?

I know your answer will be, you don’t know him like I do. You don’t know how much financially it takes to keep an apartment and still go to school. You can’t see how much he loves me and gifts don’t make a relationship.

Please just take one step in the direction of you. Reinstate your commitment to God. Please start coming to church again. Tell me to mind my own business. Never speak to me again. I don’t care as long as you are happy. Making God a priority in your life will put you back on the right path. Say a prayer. Come to church. Listen to the Holy Spirit whisper on your heart.

I Love You Always,
Jennifer

Overcome

Yesterday I had plans to go to the gym for the second time. I went to my J.O.B. for which I am on my feet for most of seven hours, then I go to the gym. Since I had been to the gym the day before, my legs were burning and they were screaming at me all day.
“Please don’t punish us, we will work better for you, we will get you through the day without aches. Please don’t go to the gym and work hard.”
I have to admit I thought about listening. My husband texted me to let me know his brother was going to stop by for a cup of coffee at 4:30, the time my husband gets home from work and the time I would get on the bus after the gym. I texted him back letting him know that I was still planning to go to the gym unless he needed me at the house and he told me that was fine.
Phillipians 4:13- “I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.”
So I went and my legs and my arms worked. They worked harder than they did the day before. Do you know what else? They even survived enough to go shopping later that evening.
In every instance that you stand up to weakness or fear and do the thing that brings you closer to your goal, you increase your strength. Say no to the negative voices and overcome.

Madisen’s Miracles

On this slightly overcast 70 degree morning the fresh lake breeze mingled with the aroma of Cheerios toasting at nearby General Mills and we walked.

We walked to raise awareness and money.

We walked with super heroes.

We walked while others ran and still others rolled for the Make lemon aid foundation for CP.

The Make Lemon Aid Foundation for CP was founded by Lauren; a young woman living with CP. CP is short for Cerebral Palsey; a medical condition that affects a person’s ability to move and control their body. It is caused by a brain injury or an abnormal development usually while the brain is still developing before or shortly after childbirth.

Most importantly we walked with Madisen.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to meet Madisen; who would change my husband’s perspective on life. We spent the day walking the trails at Losson Park. We fed some birds, squirrels and chipmunks. Mike and Madisen even pet a chipmunk. Throughout the day despite the struggles in her day to day life she laughed, she played, she changed my husband’s middle name to butthead.
My husband has had some medical changes of his own recently which left him in a deep depression and wondering if his life was still worth the air he breathed. This is what he had to say about Madisen:

“I don’t even know where to begin…. I’ve been struggling hard for a while now, trying to come to terms with my current situation, and getting worse with every passing week. Tangles, leaks, stress… feels like a constant ball an chain that I can never get rid of, a constant weight that is forever holding me down. And this past Friday, it really hit me, it took away a part of my job that I love to do. I really thought that was going to break me! It should have broken me… I should’ve snapped… but I held it together with everything I had in me! (Which wasn’t much to start)
And then, I met Madisen. A very special little 8 yr old girl with apple blossoms in her hair, the most beautiful blue eyes you have ever seen, and a smile as big as the sky!! You see, Madisen has CP (amongst other things) but that doesn’t stop her. In fact nothing stops her. Her will power, drive and determination makes this amazing little girl strive! She doesn’t know “Different”, to her, we’re the different ones. Everything in her life is normal to her. This little girl strives for one thing, to keep moving forward, to keep going after every day with the biggest intentions that she can do anything she wants!! And you know what, she can! Even if it is with a little help from friends. I had a small glimpse of what she has to endure, and let me tell you, there’s a lot that goes on, and it doesn’t stop or slow her down! We had an amazing time at the park, we talked, played, fed chipmonks (let me add, was a first for both of us..lol). Even petted a few, and we laughed… omg did we laugh… we laughed so much, we were turning red…lol. She’s not different, WE are! She showed me what its like to strive for, to push, and most of all, just enjoy life, to its fullest!! We all have bad days, that’s a given. But u get back up, and carry on, like nothing happened. She has taught me so much in just the short time we were together, and I will never forget her smile, and her lust for life! Just because we’re (me and her, and so many others in different ways) different, doesn’t make us any more “less” normal, we just learn to deal and push thru it. Like nothing is even wrong.
So from the bottom of my ❤️, Thank You Madisen!! You are truly my inspiration! Keep your head up, eyes bright, and never let that smile fade!
(From yr Butthead friend, Michael)…(P.S. I promise we will still feed the birds!!).

Thank you!! 💜”

You see? Madisen will be a Woman of Strength because she is being raised by a Woman of Strength. As Luke Bryan sings, ” And most mamas oughta qualify for sainthood” Tiffany definitly does.

Also very important, we walked with Tiffany.
Tiffany is Madisen’s mom and was brought into our lives by God. Last summer Mike answered a Facebook ad for hard wood to use in his smoker. Little did they know at the time they both were fighting bladder cancer. There were so many simularities in thier lives they instantly connected. Not only does Tiffany take care of herself through her own illness but she walks side by side with her precious Madisen in her daily struggles. Then she finds time to inspire others including my Mike when he is struggling as well.

To two true Women of Strength thank you for everything. We will continue to walk with and support both of you.

Saturday Adventure

Take a deep breath and soak in your natural surroundings. Tifft Nature Preserve just after a spring rain brings a scent that just cannot be duplicated in a candle. The wind slowly bending through the rain soaked branches and bushes. Trails layered with wet leaves of years gone by. Ducks and thier babies, the far off honk of geese flying in, the croak of a frog and the song of several breeds of birds making a home in the trees.

It never fails… we follow our favorite trails not used by many. Sometimes we go early enough to walk trails still covered in snow. This year winter wasn’t so nice to our favorite trail. Downed trees build an obstacle course of overs and unders while the branches tear my hair from my ponytail. Spring rains have been abundant and have allowed the marsh to invade the trail creating ankle deep wading areas as well as mud so thick it threatens to steal my sneakers.

I Love these adventures my husband and I find ourselves on. It reminds us that we should still live the lives we have left no matter our current age or heath condition.