Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Own It

I don't receive a ton of comments within my blog itself.  Especially now that I've disabled anonymous comments ( I apologize to those of you who don't have Google accounts), most of my comments appear elsewhere.  For those of you who leave me feedback, whether here or on Facebook, thank you.  You always make me smile.

But there was one comment that made me smile a smile the size of Montana.  The state Montana, that is.  I don't think it was intended to make me smile...ok, I know full well it wasn't.  But because I'm kinda a stinker sometimes, I smiled.  And laughed.  And am still laughing.

You see, as surprising as it may be, some people don't "prefer" me.  Which is fine.  We all have those people, right?  People we just don't mesh with.  People we have a history with.  People we have no good reason to not "prefer."  I'll leave it at that.  We're humans and even though we are encouraged in Scripture to live at peace with everyone when possible, the fact remains that it says "when possible."  So God knew that our human nature, pride and judgmental spirits would at times keep us from seeing each other the way He sees us. 

Sometimes people don't like me.  Sometimes people don't like you.  It's life.  And when we put things in a proper perspective, it doesn't have to control us.  Which is why it didn't bother me to receive a less than kind comment on one of my posts a while ago.

In this comment, the person very clearly articulated that they knew my life better than I did and MUCH better than God did (who knew I was good enough to trick the Creator of the Universe?) and then proceeded to give me a lecture in the least kind way possible. Calling me names.  The whole nine yards.

Amongst other things, they referenced my imperfections, and then they told me to "own it."

Signed, Anonymous.

(Please excuse me while I stop laughing.)

"Hey you...I don't have to read your blog, but I choose to.  I don't know your whole story, but I'll fill the role of God as I criticize you.  I'll tell you to "own it" and then sign it anonymous..."

Ironic, is it not?

Laughter aside, owning up to our imperfections is hard!  Very hard.  I've been through some seasons in my life that stripped away the ability to NOT admit failure, but I'm still susceptible.  I watch my kids' wheels turn when they are being questioned about something or even caught red-handed.  There is an innate desire to explain it away.  Blame it on someone else.  Claim to be ignorant or na├»ve.  Or, worse yet, admit to it but have a way to justify the behavior based on what happened to them first.

And at this point, I know that we can all relate.  Ouchily so.

We women like to blame our verbal outbursts and emotional breakdowns on all kinds of things...including the mere fact that we're a woman.

Men?  Well...I'm not one.  So I'm not going to say anything.  Perhaps you can figure something out.  It's safer that way.

And our kids/teens?  They are masters at this.  Sadly, though the sinful nature is something they are born with, they've obviously seen the art of not "owning it" modeled or they wouldn't be so good at it.

Responsibility is responsibility is responsibility.  Whether at school, in the work force or as it relates to owning up to things that we need to change relationally, spiritually, emotionally.  Except in those areas, it's more humility than anything else.  According to scripture humility is well worth the cost, leading to riches, honor, a long life & wisdom.

So if we knew we'd get rich would we humbly declare all our imperfections?  I don't know, but I do know that when we choose to be as close to Christ as possible, it will always involve taking responsibility for our own actions, words and attitudes no matter what happens to us or around us. 

The choice is ours... 

This choice will determine what kind of life we live.  A peaceful and meaningful one in which we grow to be more like Christ or one that is full of heartache, offense and turmoil and leads us away from the very heart of God...the heart that knows us best and can't be fooled.

The challenge is real...

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

I've certainly not arrived to the place where I live this verse out every day.  I try, but I sometimes fail.  So I will leave my anonymous comments to myself and focus on what I need to own.  I will try to model to my kids to do the same.   

And I'll let Him own the responsibility of dealing with everybody else...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

From Let Down to Tumblin' Down

When we are in the midst of it, it is often hard to even express how it feels.  But we all know, regardless of how we do or don't articulate it.

We've all been let down.

People hurt us.  Leaders fail us.  Organizations lose sight of us.  Processes betray us.  Explanations perplex us.

And while we can clearly understand what's being said or not said, done or not done...we often cannot understand why. We simply understand that we have been let down.  Used.  Injured.  Forgotten.  Disrespected.  Underestimated.  Taken advantage of. 


And so we have a choice.  Whether the one who lets us down realizes the depth of the impact or not, we have a choice.  A choice that has so much more to do with us than them on both the positive and negative aftermath of that choice.

We can try to figure it out.  We can try to change it.  We can try to proclaim the failure to others and fight for justice all on our own.  We can try to convince one or one hundred and one people who's wrong and right and why.

Or we can stop.  And we can choose faith.

I know to some faith is not logical.  It's not something that can be measured.  To some, faith is simply something that people do because they can't reason on their own.

But to me, faith in these instances is not a cop out.  It's not a last resort.  It's not a sign of weakness or giving up.

It's the only logical choice.  The only sure thing.  It's a relief, really, to acknowledge that there is nothing I can do or understand that would ever trump God's doing and understanding.  And it's in that faith that there is room to rest and feel peace even though the questions haven't been answered.

After that faith is set into place God just may give marching orders to start figuring some things out.  Changing things.  Proclaiming and fighting and convincing.  But unless it's His way in His time, it won't work.

I've been parked on the story of Joshua and his little endeavor at Jericho for awhile.  So many things about that story intrigue and inspire me.  For 14,600 days the Israelites walked in the desert.  They get to Jericho, thinking that their journey is over, perhaps?  And then wham..."walk 7 more days and do weird things and blow trumpets and walk extra on the 7th day and everything will just fall into your laps."

Really?  As if that makes sense?  As if the faith that would lead them to such shenanigans makes sense?

But it does.  Beautifully so.  Because God's thoughts are higher.  His ways are better.  I think He just wants to see how much we trust Him so He knows what He can trust us with.

So on days when faith doesn't make sense because the pain and confusion seem so much more palpable, I believe the faith actually makes all the more sense.  Because it's much more logical to believe that there is One who knows something we don't know and can do something about it.

We are human.  We will fail.  We will be failed.  But our God doesn't.  He doesn't fail.  Period.

Anyone can be trusted to have faith in the predictable moments.  But what about when none of it makes sense?  When it's just one blow after another.  Can He trust us to not give up on Him even when we want to give up?

I firmly believe that God can take all the broken pieces and parts of said people, leaders, organizations and processes and create something quite impressive.  His way.  His time.  He is just.  And He will always win...which means that justice will win as well.

Our job?  Stop.  Believe.  Breathe out grace through the pain.  Move where and when He says.

Then watch out...because the let downs will turn into the walls tumbling down.

There is no doubt.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Potty Talk and Mommyhood

It was a horrifically embarrassing moment.

The Hubster and I were wandering through the aisles of a Target a town or two away.  The kids were with the grandparents and we were engaging in our normal "have some fun in the store" banter while looking for a gift for my dad.  Having been on the road for awhile, we were grateful for the chance to stretch our legs but were in a slight rush to get home.  The Hubster was entrusting me with the responsibility of making the final gift selection while he took care of something else.

"Hey, Beck, I'm going to use the restroom real quick."

And then I said it.  I'm not sure why.  I shouldn't have.  Especially so loudly.  Across two aisles.

"OK, babe!  Go ahead and go potty!"

And it was loud.  So.  Very.  Loud.

At that moment it didn't matter that I had been using the directive "go potty" for at least 10 years.  It didn't matter that I had never stopped saying it to my kids and sometimes I had a hard time not acting like they were around when they really weren't. 

All that mattered was that The Hubster (who had not "gone potty" for a few decades now) gave me the look and then glanced over his shoulder, as if to silently communicate to me that it was probably considered uncool to shout such things to a grown man in public. 

And if the look didn't speak loud and clear, the 3 twenty-something guys walking by laughing hysterically certainly did.

I'm not sure who won the title of Most Embarrassed Adult Type Person in the store that evening.  But I'm pretty sure it was either myself or The Hubster.

Even so, I catch myself still saying it.  To my kids.  To myself.  Probably to my parents and the UPS guy and most definitely my coworkers.

I can't stop.  And I don't know why. 

Please, someone, tell me I'm not alone.  Please?

Regardless of how many other roles I've ever filled...teacher, event coordinator, wedding planner, retreat director, worship leader, youth leader, student...the mom hat seems to be the one that has been permeated the deepest.

It's also been proved to be the hardest ("most difficult," technically, but it didn't have the same ring to it).

Most nights when I put my head on the pillow, I playback scenes from the day in which I failed.  Moments I lost my cool.  Arguments I didn't successfully diffuse.  Meals that wouldn't measure up to school nutrition standards and maybe a little too much help on a math problem after spending 3 hours doing 4 different levels of 8 different subjects just so I could get 30 minutes of peace and quiet and a cleared off dining room table.

Of all the things I don't have figured out, being a mom is at the top of the list.  I had an amazing one myself.  Why more of that amazingness didn't transfer through osmosis, I don't know.

The one thing that I do know is that God gave my kids to me for a reason.  And as much as I doubt that He really thought I could pull it off, He has everything I need to succeed.  Because success has nothing to do with most of the things that we tend to think it's contingent on. 

Success has to do with love.  It has to do with perspective.  It has to do with foundation.

Not what car I can buy them.  Not what grades they get.  Not what status I can post or trophy I can showcase or fake personalities I can coach them to embrace.

It has to do with showing them by example that nobody's perfect.  That we are all created equal.  That no matter what they are accepted by me and even more so by Jesus.  It's taking that idea of God giving us grace when we don't deserve it and translating it to who they are and why I love them no matter what.

I am tempted to include that it's also about some strategically timed embarrassing moments by out of touch mothers who tend to communicate loudly about going POTTY in public.

Moms...there's no such thing as a perfect one of us.  We're all pretty wrecked and some of us more than others.  Invest in the stuff that matters.  Spend time discussing things that will create deep thinkers.  And can we all agree to stop beating ourselves up (and each other)?  Let's just follow Christ's example by being a quiet and humble and truth-living servant to our kids.  To our husbands.  To our neighbors, friends, coworkers, family members, enemies and complete strangers.  Ultimately, to our Savior.

Because I would hate to one day be walking around in Target and find myself using grown up words like "restroom" and discover that I've missed out on what was really critical in raising great kids.

Perhaps I just won't shout it so loudly.  To my Hubster.  In front of an audience.  ;)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Labor Day Post (creative title, eh?)

For some reason God decided to make our weekend extra "special" with no working phone or internet.  So here it is: a Labor Day post.  A day late, but hopefully not a dollar short. :)

Summer was my sabbath. From so many things. Vacations were replaced with home projects. Over-scheduling could not exist due to the commitment to protect lots of empty calendar spaces. I did not complete the majority of the items on my "wish" to do list (which is an entirely different list than the "have to do it to survive" to do list, by the way).

I rested. And I rested well.  I spent lots of time with my littles. I relaxed with The Hubster as much as his schedule allowed.  I read books. I watched movies. I released the stress I had stored up. I did not catch up on my blog writing.  I gardened. I conversed with my friends and my family and I ate a lot of s'mores around our massive fire pit.  And a few around our smaller one, too.  After all, why bother having two different fire pits if you can't double up on the campfire treats?

Though school has already begun and bedtimes have already been established to be more reasonable, there's just something about September 1st that make the end of my Summer Sabbath more concrete. Don't get me wrong...I {heart} routine and we've all needed something to focus on other than each other, but it's different. Not bad. Just different.

So today I took a bike ride.  I pedaled. I thought.

I started out with a certain distance in mind, anticipating the normal uphill and downhill offset.  A leisurely bike ride. That's not what happened though.

As I started to ride, it became very clear that the wind was not going to make my job easy. I rationalized to myself that at least the wind would back off when I made my first turn. Nope. Wrong again.

I turned. And the wind decided to get even stronger.  So I pedaled harder, quickly realizing that my leisurely bike ride was not turning out to be very leisurely. The normal ups and downs of the hills were greatly exaggerated by my deflated expectations as well as my bully of a road companion.  A.K.A., the wind.

As I dodged toad road kill and other delightful items common in our area (hello, road apples), I was hit with a sudden realization.  The road I was planning to turn on didn't exist in the direction I needed it to. Duh, Beck. So just like that my calculated distance increased by two miles.  For I was not going to turn around.  No way!

"I've got this..."  Perhaps more wishful thinking at that point than confident belief, but it worked.

Eventually I turned away from the wind. The silence in my ears became almost eerie, the effort required almost too easy.  More ups and downs. More remembrances that hills are almost always more extreme than they appear.  More tiny road kill to dodge.  Topped off with a sense of satisfaction at the unanticipated aerobic nature of my experience.

This bike ride, while plenty enjoyable at face value, could not have possibly been a more accurate description of my journey.  This parallel was a timely one considering today is not only September 1st, but also Labor Day. A day that I will always remember as a telling one in my journey.

Five years ago on Labor Day satan walked through my back door, trying to destroy me. And he almost did.  Except, four years ago plus a week or two, God rescued me.  And he set into motion an exhaustive plan to pour out His grace and demonstrate His faithfulness in my life.  More Labor Days ensued, some eventful and some not so much.  But onward I rode...

Much like my bike ride, this plan has overshot the initial distance I thought I was embarking on.  There have definitely been unlovely things to dodge.  Unpredictable resistance. Ups. Downs. And more ups  and downs. I couldn't tell you exactly where I am in the journey...but I know it's not yet over.  Forward moving, but not over.  Which I do believe is a very good thing. Because when we stop moving, when we rely too heavily on coasting and perfect conditions to indicate the status of our lives, we are in serious trouble.

For it is in the resistance that we discover what we are capable of.  It's in the dodging of the unlovely that we stay alert.  It's in the increased distance that we utilize our deep down strength and determination.  It's in the ups and downs and turns that we learn.  And it's through all of it that we have to rely on things bigger than ourselves: Momentum.  Gravity.  The bicycle itself.

It's this bike ride parallel that I have recently been released to start writing.  Keys clicking, screen staring, paper filling, memory jolting.  Writing.  Not journaling.  Not blog writing.  Actually writing it down.  As if someone may want to read it from start to finish someday.

Which is absurd.

I've always known this would happen.  It's been a thought originating in my own mind as well as in the minds of others.  But I didn't think the release would come any time soon.

I always figured I would start this particular project when things in my life were smooth sailing and predictable.  When certain variables had been worked out of the equation.  And if you know anything about my world right now, you would know that smooth and predictable are definitely not the correct adjectives to describe it.  And those variables?  They've definitely not gone away.  In fact, a whole lot of crazy has surfaced as of late.  But if I'm committed to always continue moving forward. and growing stronger and adjusting to new legs of the journey, I can't wait. Because if I do, it will never happen.  As much as I crave easy, I know better.  People don't grow well in easy.  There should always be something challenging us, lest we become complacent.

So with each word I type, I bathe it in prayer and then some, knowing that my story is not really my own and that God has been given full permission to use it how He sees fit, when He sees fit.  My job for now is to keep my eyes looking toward Him, forgive where I need to forgive, live how I need to live. No distractions.  No detours.  No allowing attacks to knock me off center regardless of how personal or vague...subtle or extreme. 

I know who I am in Christ.  I know that He alone defines my worth.  I know that if my eyes are on Him, I have nothing to fear. I know if my heart is open to Him, I don't need to doubt.

Friends, the same applies to you.

Perhaps you're waiting to have a certain amount of smooth and predictable to appear before you embark on something God has planted in your heart.  While it's possible that He is telling you to wait (He does do that!)...it's also possible that He's wanting you to start in the midst of the uncomfortable. Because it's at that place He is able to remind you of His role of being your sole provider and fierce protector.  Not to mention your best source for guidance, wisdom and purpose.

Know who you are in Christ. Know that He alone defines your worth. Know that if your eyes are on Him, you have nothing to fear. Know if your heart is open to Him, you don't need to doubt.

"But you have made me as strong as a wild bull.  How refreshed I am by your power!" Psalm 93:10, NLT

I have the date 8-8-11 written next to that verse in my Bible.  I don't remember why.  And I typically don't sit around envisioning myself as a wild bull.  But think of that power!  Whether you need to muscle through a challenging bike ride, a challenging life season or a challenging assignment, just remember God's power.  Remember what it is capable of.  For in that you are more than able to accomplish what lies before you.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Morning Prayer

The weariness of evening gave birth to a sleep that has allowed for a new day to begin.  In the peaceful quiet of the morning, I can only predict what today will hold.  I don't know for sure.  I see the calendar, I understand the routine, I have ideas.  But I don't know.  As my littlest little explained at dinner last night in a conversation about how often she gets made fun of...

"Maybe next year will be better.  Maybe it will be worse.  But either way I'm OK."

Oh, to rest in that truth.

Maybe today will be better.  Maybe today will be worse.  Maybe each hour will hold a category unique to the last...unique to the next.  But either way we are OK, friends.

I love mornings like this.  The calm.  The coffee.  The beautiful sky and the freshness of all things outdoors.  It's soothing...even though I am fully aware that once the four littles alarm clocks go off the feeling of calm will likely dissipate.  That doesn't change the fact that it is the perfect kind of morning in the mean time.

So today I will take note of the evidences of hope and joy and purpose and grace.  Because they are always there, no matter the place or the time or the situation.

Today I will ignore the things that do not breathe life and try to drain me of hope and joy and purpose and grace.  Because they do not need to be given in to.

I will likely fail.  I will likely lose my patience.  I will likely do a lot of things that may not be perfect.  But for now, I savor the clean slate of morning and focus on what I pray I will do.

I pray I will be giving.  That I will be grateful.  That I will be aware.  That I will live to make a difference, no matter how small.  That I will accept and give grace with great freedom.

My morning prayer is simple: 

Take me.  Refine me.  Fill me.  Use me.

And thank you.  A million hushed whispers, thank you.  For life.  For freedom.  For love.  For hope. 

For grace. 

For calm mornings and beautiful skies and soothing sips of hot coffee.

For Your promises, though I often fail at keeping them close to my heart and memory.

For the assurance that no matter which word describes the day that awaits me, we will be OK.

"God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!"
Lamentations 3:22-23, The Message

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The {Faith} Dance

The feeling is getting stronger.  More tangible.  More noticeable.

It's a cohabitation of opposites.  More like a dance, really.

Opposite steps taken in unison.  Opposite emotions fighting to be the one that receives the most attention.

There is the counting.  The impatience.  The squirrelly shenanigans as the warm breath of summer and 3 day weekends tease us with reminders that it's not quite time to fully embrace it.

We look forward to what is to come.

But then there is the dread.  The realization that there will be goodbyes and closure and many mouths offering three very simple words that often carry greater weight than we know:

"I'll miss you."

We look back on what has been.

I watch and I listen.  I see the struggle.  The cohabitation.  The dance.  In a very strange way, it's a welcome conflict.  A beautiful struggle.  A part of growth that is greatly needed, though at times lamented.

These opposites reside in much more than the end of school and beginning of summer.

They exist in the dirty fingernails and muddied clothing required to yield to the beauty of blooms.

They exist in the killing of weeds that lend to the vibrant life of grass.

They exist in the hours of hard work and investment now in order to provide ease and economic relief down the road as gardens and fields {hopefully} contain a bountiful harvest in the future.

These opposites exist daily...in both the mundane and the not so mundane.

The author of Isaiah clearly understood.

But forget all that - it is nothing compared to what
I am going to do. ~Isaiah 43:18 NLT

It's wonderful to listen to, but difficult to digest.  Yes?  It doesn't take into account the questions and the apprehensions and the letting go.  And it doesn't leave much room for rationalization, predictability, control freak tendencies and tangibles. 

That's where faith steps in.

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? ~Isaiah 43:19 NLT

Can I be honest?  I don't always.  Because when you're at the intersection of the old and the new and are trying to keep in step with the dance it becomes...sometimes it's easy to lose your direction.  To forget to look altogether.  Or perhaps, you're just to weary to keep your eyes open enough to catch a glimpse. 

That's where faith steps in. 

Don't get me wrong...I have more questions than I do answers these days.  And my faith is more evident on some days than others.  I'm only human.  An imperfect one that has had their feet stepped on more than once during this dance that we speak of.  God knows this.  I tell Him.  He knows how I feel about what I've been through and about my uncertainties of what is to come.  But He can handle my honesty...and He is worthy of my trust.  My thanks.  My dance.  And I cannot imagine one moment of it without Him.

The last day of school will come and go, summer will take on a place of precedence, yearbooks will become worn and promised playdates may or may not happen.  Parents will make comments about how quickly our kids grow up and children will feel as though they will simply never be whatever age seems most magical to them.

Whether we are speaking of school year transitions or of life direction changes...of this we can be assured.  The past feeds into the future.  It forms us, teaches us, refines us and prepares us.  Of course, we will often have to wait and see exactly what we are being formed, taught, refined and prepared for...which isn't always the most loveliest of feelings. 

But this place where we see the least is where we can grow the most and dance most freely.

It's where faith steps in.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Permission Slips

If you have ever had a child in elementary school, you are well aware of the permission-slips-waiting-to-be-signed-(or forgotten) pile on the counter.  As a proud survivor of having four children in elementary school at once (one has now moved on to middle school), I'm pretty sure I should get some kind of Permission Slip Achievement Award at some point in time.  It's only fair, right?  I know many of you other parental units can feel my pain.  And if that part of your parenting career is still ahead of you...buckle up. 

And buy lots of pens.  And document organizers.  Maybe some extra paper clips and magnets.

There seems to be permission slips for everything.  Which I totally understand and appreciate...don't get me wrong.  But some days this imperfect momma can't keep up.  And for such days, I have a pre-written e-mail that I can pull out and with just a few clicks customize it for the lost permission slip at hand.

Dear Mr./Mrs. So and So,

Due to being extremely and ridiculously scatterbrained (I blame my offspring, one of which you have the delight of spending many hours with) I do not know if I signed the most recent permission slip, let alone put it back in the folder to be placed in the backpack.  Please don't blame my child.  I'm a dork.  They are normal.  Could you please let me know if my child is current in their permission slip quota for the week by responding to this e-mail?  If you tell them to give me a message, I won't believe them.  They always tell me I haven't signed them...even when I have. 

Thank you,
So and So's Mom

Works like a charm, I tell ya. 

These permission slips are a good thing.  It assures communication.  It allows parents to have a choice about what their child is participating in and who is in charge of them.  In case of emergency, everyone is clear on what they are allowed to do or not do.

If they are worded right, that is.

I can remember a time when I was directing a camp for teens and we were working on permission slips for an off campus event.  The slips that had been used in years past looked decent enough.  And it served the purpose for the most part.  Communication.  Choices.  Directions.  But if anyone had contested the permission slip...if it was scrutinized in a court of law...it wouldn't have held up. 

Technically, they meant nothing.  Even if they were signed and returned and not taking up space on the counter.  They didn't pass.

I've been having to work on re-wording some of my own permission slips lately.  Some of the ones that I've turned in years ago, months ago, weeks ago.  Slips that I've worked tirelessly on, but yet somehow aren't holding up now.  Much like me, the permission slips that I've written for myself need refining and clarifying.

I've had this one book on my shelf for awhile.  I decided it was next in line to be read as I was grabbing my things to sit at a volleyball tournament all day.  Now, the irony in starting to read a book called "Unglued" while sitting in the midst of some rather, um, shall we say interesting people from the opposing team was about as ironic as it can get.  Seriously.  I was laughing.  And not just at them...because the temptation to become all sorts of unglued on my insides because of their behavior was just as ironic.  Trust me.

This book has been a permission slip for me of sorts.  Permission to accept the true definition of imperfection in my life.  To accept that being imperfect doesn't mean being crazy.  It doesn't mean that I'm destined to be a mess the rest of my life.  It doesn't mean that I'm forever going to be the mom that loses her cool over shoes not put away or shouts at the washing machine because it's not whirring fast enough.  It doesn't mean I'm a failure, a loser, a "has been" or non-player in this game of life.

Nope.  It just means I'm not perfect.  And I'm not the only one.  And just because I've weathered trauma and upheaval and pain in my life doesn't mean I'm not allowed to feel things on the flip side of it all. 

I've grown used to people saying to me "I don't know how you do it, Beck."  Sometimes it's in reference to having four kids close in age and other times it's in reference to the junk I've had to go through all the while keeping my chin above water.  I know they mean it as a compliment, but it makes me want to cry.  I want to tell them that most days I'm not doing it.  I want to tell them that even though they think I'm brave and strong, I'm actually frail and weak.  Sure, I've survived some pretty incredible attempts at satan destroying me, and I've managed to not kick any of my kids out of the house but I'm not out of the woods.  I'm failing.  I'm remembering hurts.  I'm giving in to old mindsets.  I'm impatient with my kids, my husband and my alarm clock.  My closet is messy.  I haven't dusted for awhile.  I care too much about what people think of me and are saying about me.  I become irritated at my children's bickering.  And sometimes I feed my kids tacos from Taco Bell for dinner rather than forcing them to eat the brown rice, chicken, herb soup I made and pat myself on the back because at least there's veggies in those dang tacos.

Unglued?  Nailed it.

I think God would love it if we could simply admit and surrender our imperfections.  Deny it and we become proud.  Dwell on it and we lose hope.  Use it to further our entitlement issues and we become bitter.  Out of touch.  Miserable to be and to be around.

Like anything, moderation in this "accepting our imperfections" thing is necessary.  And it's a fine line.  One that can actually damage our lives and the lives around us.  Give ourselves permission to recognize that progress is gradual, setbacks are normal and we are not alone?  Now we're getting somewhere.

Give yourself permission to be human.  It's important.

And if you think you already have, but just can't shake this feeling that there are things resurfacing that you need to deal with again, it's OK.  Refine that permission slip.  Make it something that will stand up to the greatest of scrutiny...whether normal day to day challenges or drastically altering life events.

Then give God permission to do what He needs to do.  We are never done growing.  There is always more to do.  But rather than dreading it, be excited about it!  It just means that there are greater things on the horizon that God wants to prepare you for.  Easier said than done, I know too well.  But as my heart is yet again begging to understand that concept as much as my brain is, it's resonating.  Even more than the first billion times I have had to make this heart to brain connection. 

With each additional connection moment, the permission slips become more thorough.  More steadfast.  More productive.  One slip at a time.

"Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in grace...imperfect progress."
Lysa Terkeurst, Unglued