note to self: it's okay to not be perfect

I visit a place called Mommy Guilt wayyy too often.  

And "perfectionism" is the vehicle that takes me there.  She drives fast with a mean engine, perfectionism does--and her favorite destinations are Shame, Guilt, and Depression.  I don't think it's any small coincidence--this metaphor of perfectionism having four wheels--  I've been driving since I was in kindergarten. 

On an old dirt road, on my father's knee, I first grasped the wheel of a chevy pickup.  "Keep her in the tracks", was my only instruction, and I did just that.  And I would do it perfectly.  I was the overachiever, the brown noser, the goody two shoes.  If I could just be good enough, then people would like me and maybe that would make up for all the things I didn't like about me and even about my family.  Don't get me wrong here, I see now how blessed I am with the family I came from, but don't we all go through a "whose-family-is-this-and-was-I-really-adopted" phase?

Perfectionism became a way of redeeming myself.  

And therein lies the problem.  I can't redeem myself.  I will never have the ability to redeem myself.  All my righteous acts are as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6)

Perfectionism is rejecting Christ's redemption and attempting my own. 

This is eye-opening for me.  It's almost as if I'm telling God, "No, what you did for me just wasn't enough.  I still have to work to deserve it."

>>I don't have to be perfect for God to love me.  For people to love me, maybe.  But not for God.  Not for Him, the one who knows I am but dust, and made me from mud so I would soften at His touch.  He chose messy.  Because messy can be molded into glory.<<

I've sat as my own judge and jury for too long.  And I've allowed myself to worry over  judgements I've perceived others have made against me as well.   The truth of it is that I'm God's servant and He alone will judge me.   So who am I to condemn myself?  There's NO CONDEMNATION for us who are in Christ Jesus.  None.  Mercy triumphs over judgement!  It's not about being good enough anymore.  It's about humbly accepting the word of God planted in us that SAVES us, rescues us, does for us what we can never do for ourselves.

I used to consider my inner drive to be perfect as a good trait, one that would push me to become what God wanted me to be.  I was confusing the work of the Spirit with the work of the flesh.  When the Spirit changes us, places his finger on our muddy clay hearts, molding us into the image of Christ, and we submit to that work, bending at His touch-- it's nothing of ourselves, it's all Jesus.  And that's the kind of change that lasts.  

Nothing I try in my own power, for my own selfish motivations, will stand the test of eternity.  It's been eye-opening for me, all that God's been revealing to me about how negative and hard I've been on myself.  I foolishly thought my struggle with inward perfection wouldn't affect those around me.  But I sat in the backseat of a van with my seven year old son on a long and stressful trip and heard him say these words to me,  "you want me to be perfect and I just CAN'T be perfect!".  Hot tears were rolling off his cheeks, scorching my heart. 

It took me by surprise.  I never knew that I was projecting that onto my children.  His behavior had disappointed me on this trip, and I had allowed other people's judgements to fester like an open wound.  The truth is, his actions had made ME look like less than stellar of a mom.  It was pride and perfectionism that were guiding me, not the heart of the Father.  For perfectionism is just another form of pride.  And pride will always keep us from receiving the love and freedom of Christ.  It makes us miserable and judgmental.

My dad said it perfectly, "think of it this way, your kids are keeping you humble".

I sighed when he told me that.  It's not as if humility is a coveted parenting trait.  But if that's what God wants to accomplish within me, I'll submit to it.   This ministry of motherhood is just one more way God is refining me.  These wonderful children he's blessed me with are his instruments.  And my home is God's classroom.  If I am to boast about anything, it is to be the very weaknesses that propelled me straight into the saving gospel of Jesus.  My imperfections are what teach me the most about His perfect nature.  

And so I want to live in grace.  I want to give it extravagantly, just as I receive it.  I want to parent my children as God parents me--with truth and love, forgiveness and mercy.  I want my motives in discipline not to be clouded by perfectionism, but to be brimming with humility and purity of heart.  I have to give my kids room to fail, and then lead them straight into the redemptive love of Jesus. 

I have to give myself room to fail and then press ever harder into the only grace that saves me.  Sloppy clay that I am in the hands of the Master Potter.  He's making something beautiful, because it's what He does best, after all.

And that's the Gospel truth.


dear baby girl

Dear Story,

Thank you, my sweet girl, for smiling and cooing and being so downright lovable when mommy is totally pooped and ready to throw in the towel (or wipe).  By now, you know you were born into a zoo.  But this zoo utterly adores you.  It may be loud, but it's always entertaining.  You'll never be bored.  That's a promise.  

You're the happiest in the morning (and generally every time you wake up from a nice long nap).  You grace us all with the biggest of smiles and we can't help but grin besottedly back (this night owl who is certainly not bright and chipper at ungodly hours of the morning included).  I love, love, love holding you close, rocking and nursing you as often as I can.  It's peaceful holding you.  Don't tell anyone else, but sometimes I stay in your room, rocking you extra long, just to soak in some much needed rest.  You don't seem to mind.  

Your daddy hogs you when he gets home from work, though.  He doesn't put you down.  You fall asleep every night on his chest.  Your brothers and sister are nuts about you, too.  Legend gives you a thousand kisses a day and whenever you cry he whispers, "oooooh, Story, iss okay, iss okay".  Astair loves to dress, and hold, and bathe you.  She's the best big sister in the whole wide world.  Thad and Boston are such proud big brothers and they are always looking out for you.

Sometimes there's six people in your face at once, all vying to get one of your coveted smiles.

You've brought such sweet joy to us all.

We love you to distraction,

Your Very Own Zoo


a homespun nursery for Story

My Storybook room, I like to call it.  There's a lot of love I've added to this small space.  A lot of love and so many babies.  Some things stayed the same this time.  My heart couldn't part with the tree I painted for Legend or the hot air balloons.  So they stayed and offered their cheer for one more of my babes.  

I had to add those touches to the room that would just be hers.  Like the "book" mobile made from  vintage hymnal readings, the baby quilt I labored over in that last trimester, floating cloud pillows, and a polka dot jumper in my favorite rescued frame.  All hers.  All part of her story, and this mama's love.

It's our little hide away now, where we rock and I dream with God for her.  And I hold her extra long well after she's finished nursing, because I remember small babies before her now so big in my arms and I'm not rushing.



Dear Jesus,

I love January.  Really, I do.  But New Year's Resolutions?  We-ell....you know how those always turn out.  Disappointing.  And I don't think I can load anymore guilt on these mommy shoulders, you know?    Yes, you do know.  And that's just one of the things I love about you.  You don't place anything too heavy or burdensome on me, that's just not your way.  Your way is full of grace and I WANT THAT this year.  I want your grace to mark my life.  I want it to fill me, to MOTIVATE me, to strengthen me and make me into your vessel, a dwelling place for your Holy Spirit.  

Sometimes the cares of this life overwhelm me and I feel so much guilt for neglecting my relationship with you.  Sometimes it's not just the cares, it's how I cope with them, where I run to for my nourishment-- media, books, things...  And I let them steal those moments when I could have sat with you and been filled by you.  I really want that to change this year, Jesus.  But I know me and you do too, and I'll need your GRACE to choose YOU.  

This year, this month, this day, help me CHOOSE YOU.  First.  Before I reach for that old numbing comfort, which isn't really bad in itself, just time-stealing and so often leaves me empty when I could have been nourished by your words, your truth, your very self.  

So, maybe I'll write resolutions, maybe I won't.  Maybe I'll accomplish a few, maybe not.  But one thing I will do.  I will love you more than I ever have before.  

Because I'll choose to.

Your girl


"God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness."  Titus 2: 11-14


my pixie girl

(all of these pics are straight out of the camera and on manual mode on my new nikon!  I'm LOVIN' this Christmas present, can ya tell?  Thank you, Joel Dicharry, you make all my dreams come true)

Dearest Jesus,

You make beautiful things.  Truly you do.  I can't stop crying as I look at these pictures of my, our little Story.  And I did just finish watching Josh McDowell's life story Undaunted, and that brought on the tears too.  My heart has been drawn to yours tonight.  In that gentle and familiar way you always do, you've reminded me of your love for me.  It's not so much that I forget, but that I get distracted.  Busy.  Caught up in life and it's cares, and even it's comforts.  You never shout.  You wait for me to listen.  And I haven't been listening as closely.  But now...now you have my attention.  Keep speaking to me, Jesus.  I'm listening.

Your girl

the thankfulness goes on...

112.  my new nikon camera...overjoyed to capture my loves
113.  long weekends with my honey and our brood
114.  grace from my husband when he can't find any socks 
115.  clothes.  (even if they are all in a laundry pile that rivals a small mountain range)
116.  little kids cleaning the house for me 
117.  and when they sing about Jesus my heart just explodes


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