Monday, April 29, 2013

Connecting Women (in)RL 2013

The first time I heard anything about the (in)RL conference was back in October when I attended the Allume bloggers conference. I was intrigued, but still unsure.

A month or so later I found the courage and the inspiration (thanks to Allume) to submit a post I wrote  to the (in)courage website. Upon their acceptance of my piece (which was featured on Thursday before the conference), they requested that I help promote registration day for (in)RL.

Since I was asked to blog about it, I knew I needed to understand more about what I was encouraging other women to sign-up for. That process not only made me want to participate myself, but I decided to host a meet-up in my Pennsylvania home.

Almost immediately I wondered — would anyone sign-up to come? Followed quickly with a swift reassurance —You provide the home and I'll provide the people.

Did I tell you that I'm an introvert? Hosting a meet-up for a random smattering of women can be scary no matter who you are. But I had peace about it.

One by one women started signing up to come. And as time does, the months flew by and our April (in)RL meet-up was here!

We trickled in. We ate. We broke ice. We won prizes. We introduced. We dug a little deep. We crafted and laughed and ate some more.

But above all we came together for a common goal — to connect with one another in the spirit of community.

And as I sat in my living room and observed the ten lovely ladies chatting with each other over veggie pizza and sopapilla cheesecake, I was struck by how intentional gatherings create space for connecting (like Emily Freeman's bench idea).

In an organically formed meet-up group where strangers mixed with acquaintances who mixed with good friends, we all had to put ourselves out there a bit. And the more we talked the more we discovered connections we didn't even realize we had.

I'm thankful I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with women who aren't typically in my every day life. And feel blessed that because of (in)RL our paths crossed. And I hope they will again.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Reframing Friendship (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Friend

The thought occurs to skip this one. Because I'm not quite sure of anything right now.

After 37 years I'm just now realizing I don't know what "friend" means. I know what I want it to mean. But my definition is based on my longings, not what is appropriate to expect.

So what is a friend?

I want to reframe it — so that my junk doesn't get in the way. Because I have some pretty strong and steady friends who seem ready to stand by me no matter what I bring to the table.

I've been writing about my perfectionism. And about depending too much on people and not enough on Him.

There is a part of me that thinks I have to be everything to everyone. And that if I can't offer anything then people aren't going to want to be my friend.

As far back as I can remember, when I walked high school tile floors and wore fluffy bangs and docksiders and rolled the ankles of my jeans. And I so desperately wanted to fit in. Such a game we play, trying to figure out what we can do to make other people like us.

I see now how futile that was — how futile that is.

So I guess a friend likes you because you are you. And like God, a friend stays because they care and because they see your value, even when you don't. A friend sticks by when you walk through a valley and is patient with you when you think you need space. And a friend gives you grace when your humanness causes unintentional pain.

And that's all that makes sense to me right now.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo…
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hiding What's Broken - Guest Post for (in)courage

I watched intently as my sweet pink princess of a daughter played. She was a busy five year-old, spunky and imaginative and always on the move.

She plodded slowly towards me, doll hanging by her side. In her eyes I could see frustration and a touch of sad.

“My doll won’t stand up!”

I took up the porcelain doll and examined her carefully.

“I don’t want her anymore,” she said.

Beneath her doll’s purple satin and lace dress was a piece of metal where a leg used to be. Collateral damage from a little girl adventure, perhaps.

“I don’t want her because she’s broken.”

Will you join me here at (in)courage to read the rest?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Perfectly Imperfect: When You're Dissatisfied With Mediocre (hope for the perfectionist part 2)

Continued from this previous post

I wonder how I’ll breathe.

I don’t suppose a baby worries about how he will breathe when he leaves his mother’s womb and meets oxygen for the first time.

And if I counter my perfectionism with surrender, what might that look like? I’m pretty sure I won’t asphyxiate.

I think that beneath all of those high standards is fear.

I am afraid.
Who do you depend on?

I hide behind my own self-sufficiency.

Because God is one of many things I depend on, instead of being the One in whom I depend.

As I figure out how to do this in my own life, I’ve been encouraged by some recent sermons preached about Romans 3 by my pastor, Tony Taylor. In them, he asked some very heavy questions.

What do you do to justify your existence?

Do you want to serve God or do you want God to serve you?

Where do you run for comfort? Long for passionately? Feed or fear?

According to Pastor Tony, our disappointments reveal our true idols. Hmmm…

And it’s here, in the midst of conviction, where things can get ugly for me. Because perfectionists are condemning. What happens when we aren’t getting it right? Where do we go with that?

Giving myself permission to be human does not mean I stop growing or trying. It doesn’t mean sin or disappointments or mistakes don’t matter. But there’s something very freeing when I accept that I’m in a life-long process and I don't have to have it all figured out right now.
“All you need is need! Too humbled to be self-centered and too affirmed by God to need to be.” Tony Taylor
There is more to this complex story — of how perfectionism is tied to impossible expectations and how these expectations coupled with an unhealthy dependence on others or self can leave you feeling consistently disappointed and dissatisfied. Chapters about control issues and distrust, hope and redemption.

But for now, thanks for visiting me in this valley and walking with me as I figure out how to accept myself and others —as perfectly imperfect.

What does utter dependence on God look like in your life?

How have you found freedom from perfectionism or high expectations of yourself or others?

Might setting healthy boundaries temper unmet expectations, disappointments, and dissatisfaction?

Linking today with the Soli Deo Gloria Party at Finding Heaven.

Recent related posts from A Heartening Life:
The Measure of Success — read it here
When a Snake Blocks Your Path (letting go of control) — read it here

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jump Anyway (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Jump

Just jump!

I've heard that nudge before. A familiar voice that beckons me to confront fear.

It happened the other night when the man asked if anyone had any questions and I raised my hand and spoke shaky words into the microphone. I didn't want to do it, but that's why I did.

Someone told me recently that they see me as very confident. And as flattering as that was, I didn't feel like it was true. Because I often feel so terribly inadequate.

Confidence can look like surety. But to be honest, I'm rarely sure of myself.

Maybe the idea of confidence is less about being sure of myself and more about finding the courage to jump.

I want my kids to be jumpers. Now my daughter has jumping down, but her style is more about jumping first and asking questions later. And my son, well, he observes, waits, and if possible, lets a few other people jump first just to make sure it's safe. Whatever works, I guess.

I know when I'm supposed to jump and when I'm not. Because fear calls me out. He tells me I shouldn't do it — can't do it. And he tempts me with safety and comfort. And makes me think that not jumping is better for everyone.

But I've come to hear a different voice. The One that nudges me to jump anyway. As my feet dangle on the edge of that opportunity to jump, He asks me,

Are you going to regret not jumping?

How often the answer is yes!

Yet how lovingly He gives me the strength I need, not to wait until the fear is gone, but to courageously jump despite it — no regrets.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo…
Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Permission to Be Human (hope for the perfectionist part 1)

I am a perfectionist.

If you wonder if you are, too, that probably means that you are not. Perfectionism is hard to hide.

For me, the problem with this label is that I am completely aware that perfect is unattainable. And most of the time I’m not setting out for perfection. It’s not usually an obvious goal.

But there is this little tug when I’m doing anything – a voice you could say – that speaks dissatisfaction.

Issues have cropped up in my life recently that were hinting deeper investigation into “the voice”. But it was sealed when in a moment of conflict, my dramatic eight year-old bellowed,

“But we’re not perfect!”

And that statement rang and rang and rang in my ears the rest of that day. Because in my heart I know this -- no one is perfect. But in my head…well, that might be a different story.

I am all about grace. I have learned its beauty firsthand. But grace and disappointment often walk hand in hand. And that can be very hard.

Grace is almost always easier to give to someone else. But what about me?

Do I give myself permission to be human?

Honestly, I don’t think so.

I have placed a weight of responsibility and expectations on myself. And I carry it with me into relationships.

Perfectionists also tend to be control freaks who want things to be just so. I think because that’s what feels safe. And for me, there are reasons why I self-protect — valid reasons why safe and secure feel like oxygen to me.

But if that’s ripped away – well, I sometimes wonder how I’ll breathe?

To be continued…

To read Part 2, click here.

Linking today with the Soli Deo Gloria Party at Finding Heaven.

Friday, April 12, 2013

When Here Is Ugly (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Here

I don't always like being here.

And before everyone starts to worry about my sanity I don't mean alive.

Like the space between two mountains or the dip between two waves, I'm having a valley moment. And usually when I find myself here I feel the need to scurry my way back up to the peaceful place at the top with the great view.

Because on the mountain you can look back and you can see forward and where you are sort of makes more sense.

But down in the valley all I see is the long climb back to the top. It can feel so overwhelming.

Here is hard — sometimes.

But instead of trying to find my way out, I'm working to be content to just sit here for a while. Because what brought me here is probably worth looking at and not hiding from.

Here is ugly — sometimes.

Seeing things I don't really want to see — in me. There's a battle here between who I am and who I want to be. The punches are landing and I'm left feeling worn and bruised. But don't we all live with this ugly?

So I'm seeking God here. Because I don't know what else to do. I'm relying too much on everything but Him. Maybe that's what I'm supposed to see.

The more I don't like being here, the more I think I should stay. And work it out and see it through.

Here I am, Lord. Will you come and be with me in the valley? And lead me to higher ground — when I'm ready?

Linking today with Lisa-Jo…
Five Minute Friday

Friday, April 5, 2013

After: The End of Ignorance (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: After

Everything begins with a before — a blissful unawareness. Ignorant anticipation.

I couldn't understand the intense pain or the incredible joy of having a baby —

Or the depth of sorrow receiving the phone call that my mother-in-law had passed away in the night —

until it happened to me.

There is this time before the diagnosis — or the disclosure — or the dreaded phone call, when all seems status quo and routine.

But then a moment. A decision. A consequence. And it all changes.

The innocence of before snatched away by knowing.

And there are times I want to go back to before because the pain is too fierce, the disappointment too strong.

But there are equally afters, like having my kids, I would never trade — could never imagine going back to before.

I haven't always seen beauty in innocence.

Childhood wounds made me believe that not knowing hurts more. I spent many years thinking knowledge would have saved me — from things I now regret.

Today I see the innocence in my own children and I want to bottle it up and store it for them because there are things I wish they didn't have to see. Things I wish they didn't have to feel. Because they hurt.

But after is unavoidable and it's necessary.

And after, I have found — is where God hangs out and carries you into tomorrow.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo…
Five Minute Friday
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