Thursday, February 23, 2012

the perfect prison

i have a confession. i've been in prison most of my adult life. it's not something i'm proud of but it's something i feel needs to be shared.
it's the prison of perfectionism.

does she look familiar? (monica from friends)

what about him?? (creepy husband from sleeping with the enemy...i can still hear that scary music that was always playing when he was close by!)

i ran a close race with these two.

everything in my world had to be perfect
perfect house.
perfect family.
perfect relationships.
perfect children.
perfect "look"

do you know how exhausting that is??

and the thing about it is as women, we are brainwashed by the world to think this way. look at the cover of any magazine.
models airbrushed to have perfect bodies. hair. clothes.
homes that have the perfect furniture. wall colors. lighting.

for me, it was an addiction. an obsession. it caused me not to be fully present at certain times in my life.

when having friends over i would constantly be thinking about all the cleaning i was going to have to get done when everyone was gone. or even before they arrived, was everything in its proper place. or i couldn't even have friends over because the house wasn't decorated exactly how i wanted or the yard wasn't landscaped just perfectly.

going out on dates was a whole other issue. was i wearing a cute enough outfit? was i having a good hair day? because let me tell you if those things didn't happen, it would set my mood for the night. i couldn't fully enjoy myself without having these thoughts in the back of my mind.

the stress of my boys having friends over to play. what kind of mess were they making? did they have to drag out every.single.blanket we owned and rearrange all the furniture just to build a fort that would be played in for a total of five minutes?

see the pattern???

this is what i've learned.....
my friends don't come over to see our house, they come to see us.

it's not what my clothes or hair or outside appearance looks like, it's the character of my heart.

i want my boys to enjoy having their friends over. i want them to enjoy using their imagination.

these chains are slowly being loosened. i still have more moments than i want where these "need to be perfect" feelings come right back. but i will say i'm not confined to this twenty-four hour prison cell anymore. although i do still visit it from time to time, it's just that...a visit!

visit the nester for more perfect imperfections!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

joy in the anticipation

today, ash wednesday, is the beginning of lent and the forty days leading up to Easter. now I will say growing up I never heard a lot about this time of year. all I really knew was you had to give up something, repent a lot and try not to focus on yourself. pretty dark and depressing if you ask me.
 but over the years my attitude towards this season has changed.  there’s an anticipation that builds up with this time of year. i look at it now more like a time of preparation rather than a time of depression. in the same way advent helps me to prepare for Christmas, lent helps to prepare me for Easter and everything that it means.
lent has become a time to turn my focus back to God. to rejuvenate my prayer life. try new prayer practices. spend some time in silence with the Lord. doing things that connect me to Him on a deeper level.
 i know there are some things that have entered my life that take my time and energy away from my family and friends and even God. pinterest, facebook and my smart phone all come to mind.  but I don’t want my focus, during lent, to be on what i'm giving up. i’d rather it be on what I’ve been given.
quality time with my boys
a higher level of intimacy with my husband
a stronger relationship with our Lord.
yes, for me, lent is a time of soul-searching and repentance. but it’s also a time to start something new, to turn back to God and to remember all we have been given, and to begin again!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

spring cleaning in my home and in my heart

this weekend was wonderful. it was filled with absolutely nothing. like i said, wonderful.
we don't get very many weekends like these. so i wanted to relish in the fact that i was staying home on a saturday and my schedule had not one thing written on it that i had to get done.
 i'm a very organized person.
 and i love nothing more than a clean home.
so i felt this would be the perfect opportunity to do a little spring cleaning.
even though our calendar says february , i feel spring is knocking at my door. in more ways than one.

our bed was stripped. the mattress was vacuumed. sheets were cleaned. baseboards and furniture dusted.

the glass around our shower was cleaned, inside and out. tub and toilet scrubbed. floors vacuumed and mopped...

countertops, cabinets and sinks were wiped down.

i will say i'm very lucky in the fact that my closet will hold all of my clothes. i don't have to worry about changing them out each season. but it still needs to be purged from time to time.

clothes were refolded and the ones that were halfway off hangers were put back in their proper places.

bookcases were thoroughly dusted....

...and the insides were organized.

it feels so good to have everything in my home cleaned. i love going from room to room seeing that evey item is put in its proper place.

and just like the spring cleaning that i do in my home, i feel there's a similar cleaning i need for God to do in my heart.
my closets, bookcases and dresser drawers get cleaned of all the unwanted items i have in them. and sometimes i forget i have a lot of unwanted items in my heart as well. sometimes i don't even realize they are there. until something is said or done and it triggers those items to hang front and center in my life....
so i'm really working hard on letting God clean out my heart. and just as i fill my closets and dressers back up with some things i love, God will do the same. but this time He will take the negative items that were taking up such precious and valuble space inside me and replace them with His love. His grace. His mercy. because i truly believe that everything good that is within us all comes only from Him.

so i'm breathing in real deep to smell that fresh clean spring air (with just a hint of clorox bleach) and i'm allowing God to get His rubber gloves and dust rags and mop buckets so that He can do what He needs to do in order to get this job done. and i know it won't be done in one saturday afternoon or even in this lifetime but it will all be worth it.

The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Psalm 85:12

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

waiting for the blooms

we have beautiful knockout roses in a huge flower bed in the front of our home. every season it seems there are more and more blooms that come. but when the season of blooming is over we prune them down to just the bare branches. kevin takes the hedge trimmers and in one, sometimes two swoops, they are cut down.

even though our winter so far has been mild. and it has been only in the past couple of days that i've really felt this season come upon us. in my heart, i feel winter is in full force. it's cold. it's dark. it's dreary. it hurts.

but even in the darkness of these days, i see God's light shining all around me. to guide me. to keep my focus on what or rather Who it needs to be. i cannot begin to tell you what He's teaching me in the midst of my pruning. i'm learning about forgiveness, trust, kindness, patience, faith and hope. just to name a small few. 

He has spoken directly to me so much over the last week. bronson, the lead pastor at synergy church, was preaching out of mark chapter two this past sunday. a story of how the faith of four friends brought a paralyzed man to Jesus. and the faith it took for the man himself to get up on his own and walk with no one there to carry him. sometimes my faith is so small, i need the faith of others to carry me to Him. and then there are times where He will ask me to trust in Him and stand on my own faith, with no else around.

then just yesterday i was watching joyce meyer on tv. she was telling the story from john chapter eight. the woman had committed adultery and the people had brought her to the temple, before jesus to be stoned. and before jesus said a word to any of them. he bent down and started drawing in the dirt. what???? i'm thinking come on, say something to them. don't just kneel down and play in the dirt! well, joyce goes on to explain her interpretation of this action. before jesus spoke a word, he wanted to listen to his father. he wanted to hear what his father had to tell him about the situation. oh good grief!!! how many times have i talked and talked and talked without first stopping to listen to what God is telling me?

he's spoken to me not only in these two stories, but also through friends and family. i had a friend i was confiding in just the other day. and when we got ready to hang up the phone, she said, "i'm going to pray for this situation. right now" and i knew in my heart that the minute we hung up the phone she was talking to God for me. do you know what that feels like??? to know that someone will actually be praying for you. that it's not just words they say for comfort. that there is action behind them. He's teaching me to be that kind of friend to others.

yesterday i shared with kevin everything that i was learning in this season. i feel like every direction i turn, He is  right there. talking to me. teaching me. it has come in many different forms. friends. preachers and bible teachers. family. His Word. i'm trying really hard to keep my heart opened and listen. sometimes it's a struggle. but i could not be more thankful for what He's shown me. i'm filled with empty branches. and just like those roses, i feel like i have been cut down in one swoop. but i know that a season of pruning is always followed by a season of blooms. and right now, that's what i'm waiting for.

I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. John 15:1-2

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

my focus has turned this week. i've completely taken it off of the only One who has all answers. it's so easy to get caught up in life. the need to fix things. the need for someone to fix me. i can't do it. i can't fix things. no one can fix me. the only way this will happen is to turn my attention back to where it needs to be. on Him. He can guide me. He can fix me. He can carry anything. He's strong when i'm weak. some how this week i've missed it. i've completely taken my focus off of him. and isn't it strange that just this week our devotion title on february 7th was don't be distracted. wow. i even took time to explain it to my boys. if you're in a race and you only focus on how tired you are and how hard the race is you're more likely to give up. instead focus on the finish line. jesus is our finish line. that's how i explained it. but yet i've completely focused this week on how hard the race is. not listening to the advice i gave my boys just a few days ago. so today i choose to turn my eyes on Him. i'll pray. and let Him handle everything else.

why am i so sad? why am i so upset? i should put my hope in God. i should keep praising him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

Sunday, February 5, 2012

touched by faith

in mark 5: 28-34 the woman's name is never mentioned. she was a sick woman. viewed as unclean by all jewish people. she had been bleeding for twelve years.  she wasn't welcomed in the temple. there was no hope. no cure. she had exhausted all financial means on every doctor imaginable. she was beyond broken.
she had  heard of a man they called the son of God. Jesus. He heals the sick. He was headed to the other side of the lake by boat.
a huge crowd gathered at the shore. surrounding Him. but if she could just make her way passed the people. if she could just get within arms length.
she crawled on the ground pushing through the masses. she got as close as she could.
she knew she didn't need Him to pray over her.
she knew He didn't have to lay His hands on her.
she knew she didn't even need to touch His flesh.
  and then she stretched her arm as far as it would reach. and with just the tip of her finger, she touched the hem of His robe.
she was healed instantly.
Jesus wanted everyone there to realize what had just happened. yes, there were hundreds of people there that day touching Him. but He had been touched by faith. and it was by faith in Him that this woman was healed.
she believed that Jesus was the son of God. she believed He had the power of God in Him. and if she could just draw closer to Jesus then in turn, God would draw closer to her and would heal her. and He did just that.

i don't want to get lost in the crowd. yes, i can open my bible on a daily basis. yes, i can surround myself with great friends and mentors of God. yes, i can touch all the things that encompass what it means to be a christian. but without faith, it isn't enough. because when the hard questions come. and they do come..

why, at times do i feel like  i've failed at being a good mother?
why do i still try to get my worth from the things of this world instead of what i know to be true?
why do we feel God telling us to give and give to others when we need to be saving for a rainy day?
why wasn't my mom healed from her cancer?

...all i have to rely on is my faith.
i know He has all the answers.
i know some of these questions won't be answered here on this earth.
i know that if i'm to receive His blessings. His healing. His power.
then i must get as close as i can and stretch out my arm and touch Jesus with faith.

Friday, February 3, 2012

are you ready for some football???

um, me...i don't really care. i mean don't get me wrong. i love my georgia bulldawgs and saturdays in athens tailgating with friends. but when it comes to the nfl, i haven't paid much attention. now i will have to say, this year was a little different. i have been a tebow fan since his days with the gators. i love how he puts God first and gives Him the glory in all aspects of his life. i even read his book through my eyes.  my oldest son ethan, wanted a number fifteen gator jersey but his daddy, being a university of georgia graduate and die hard dawg fan,  wasn't about to let a university of florida jersey come through our front door. so he had to wait til tebow went to the nfl. he received his broncos jersey this past christmas.

now even though i don't care who plays in the superbowl this sunday, i do love the commercials and the halftime shows. and one of my favorite things to do is fix finger foods and veg out in front of the t.v. and graze for four hours straight!
did you know that americans eat more on superbowl sunday than any other day of the year?! y'all that includes christmas and thanksgiving!
well, let me tell you...if you are throwing a superbowl party or you're like me, and just love snacking on finger foods, then pinterest is the place to be!

here are some of the goodies i'm thinking of trying this weekend while becoming part of the statistic...

so that's what i think i'll attempt...any good recipes you wanna share??
y'all have a great weekend!!