Saturday, January 25, 2014

An army... of strength!

Selina was three years old and I was having one of my normal... I have to make sure my daughter is well-rounded moments... worrying that she will lack where I lack or that she will miss out on something because my expertise does not lie in particular areas. Basically, this whole day that was about to unfold was fueled by insecurity and I can guarantee there were better uses for my time. Do you ever have days like that? I mean earlier that day on the Today show they had a three year old who could play the violin with ease and it seemed that all my friends had Doogie Howser for children... I needed to pick something that my kid would excel in right? And what about all of the things that I had no expertise in at all?

You are talking about the girl who called her soon to be husband the night before we were supposed to marry crying, stating that I didn't think he should marry me... Why? Because I didn't really know how to or love to cook. (I am pretty sure Brian just laughed at me... especially considering during our entire friendship and engagement, he had done most of the cooking. I guess he felt that I had value in other areas besides cooking.) But at that moment, that seemed like a deal breaker to me.

Have you ever let your insecurities become a deal breaker?

It was below freezing outside, I was pregnant and Wyatt was barely walking; and I decided for some reason unknown to any logical man that today was the day to step outside of my comfort zone. So we bundle up, get in the car and make the drive to our nearest Michaels. If you have ever been there, you know that their carts are small and their aisles anything but kid friendly. I plop Wyatt in to the cart and grab Selina by the hand telling her that we are going to pick out a special craft for her to put together... a promise that would not be fulfilled that day. I walk down the aisles, stop at least three workers to ask them questions that I am sure pointed me out as the rookie of the store... but it seemed that every idea or craft part required another component, the paint was too toxic, the project too hard for tiny three year old fingers... slowly my blood pressure begin to rise and my insecurities rose to all new heights... so we left, Selina crying because she had attached herself to something that was for ten year olds...

I went home, put the kids down for a nap... and cried! (I am sure the pregnancy hormones were not aiding me at this point!) How could my daughter or my son or the next one succeed in life if I was going to have a break down in a Michael's store?

I knew on that day that I needed to pray... looking back on my journal, I see how God has knocked it out of the ball park in those requests...

Do you ever let your insecurities become a deal breaker for you? We look around us and feel like we don't measure up, so our children won't measure up or maybe we compare our children to those around us and so begin to feel that our children don't measure up. Try to take up a new hobby that we have no interest in to start, push ourselves to journal because that is how Suzie finds her closest times with God, volunteer to do something because it seems like the right thing to do and then everyone in your household feels the weight of that unhappiness in your decision week in and week out, devote hours of time to a project that someone else could probably do in fifteen minutes because we don't want to feel inferior, and the list could go on all day. We put so much pressure on ourselves... I feel there are times that God is just shaking His head and saying, they just don't get it!

God made us to be us! Social media and the comparison game around us can be the enemy, but do you know where the greatest battle is fought... our own mind!!!!!! God knew exactly what He was doing when He put you in your work environment, in your classroom, when He made you the parent of your children...

My little Selina is now six (and a half in 3 days she has been counting off to me)... and can I tell you, she leads me. In the past week, Selina has taught me how to do a single, triple, fishtail something on her rainbow loom, sowed her own dress on her doll, read an entire American girl series, cooked breakfast three times in one week, and practices her beam routine at least 15 times a day. Even today she took over an hour to make a fan that spins out of card stock to go over her bed as decoration... none of these projects were my idea.

I don't have to be all things to all people and I don't even have to be all things to my children. God is asking us to use the tools that He has given us and to be good stewards of them.

What makes me the best possible mom for Selina is not that I am super skilled at all of the things that she finds passion in. Honestly, most of the things that Selina chooses to do in her spare time, I would pull my hair out if you told me I had to sit and do for three straight hours. (I may have had close to an emotional breakdown when I could not follow a ten year old girl doing Rainbow Loom on YouTube.) The parts of me that make me the best possible mom for her is that I am a cheerleader so my children know I am always behind them no matter what, a believer that you can truly do anything you set to do because that is what Philippians 4:13 says so my children think they can conquer the world and why not, I am resourceful, I like to defy the odds, I am organized which makes Selina's life more sane because she struggles there, I am patient, I love people and so Selina has picked up that passion for people and makes them bracelets or cards, I like to ask questions which makes Selina's choice of passion feel valuable and most importantly I am willing to let her be different than me! I have a lot of other amazing qualities but this blog is not about that... laugh out loud! But honestly, we are so hard on ourselves, how dramatically would our outlook change if we could start naming the things about ourselves that makes us special and unique. So now Selina drags me through the Hobby Lobby aisles and begs me to let her cook the eggs and sets her alarm to make sure she is on time for gymnastics.

These things are true in our relationship with our kids, in our relationships with our friends and even in our relationship with God. God has made you with a certain frame. Should we be willing to venture outside of our expertise at times to help someone in need or share a passion with a child, YES! But we should never discount our component/our contribution that makes our world and the people around us more well-rounded. If I were an island, you would not find me to be very well-rounded at all. But when you take the community of people that I do life with day in and day out, there you will find a beautiful masterpiece!

And so God answered my prayers in that journal that day... and I continue to pray them... Lord, help me to find security in You alone. You are my rock, my cornerstone. When I feel weak in certain areas of my life, surround me with people that consider that a strength. Help me to be that strength to others. Guide my life... I know that when I follow you daily, you will lead me. Lead me so that I may lead others well!

I have an army of support around me because I have realized I can not do this alone... do you have an army? Maybe you need to let down some walls in your life, lay down some of your insecurities, and pray for your army (for your community)... and when they come, let them be that strength for you. His promise is that His strength is made perfect in our weakness... I am so glad that He can be my strength and He can use me to be that strength to others!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bigger Mountains Calls for Going Deeper

Feeling like the songs on the radio just weren't cutting the mood tonight on the way home from work, I found myself pouring my heart out to God about all of the different worries, concerns, frustrations, feelings of inadequacy, and the list goes on... and I said these words to God, I feel so ill-equipped for all of the mountains that we seem to be facing and that so many of my dearest friends and family are facing; I need more Grace God, more patience, more "my cup overfloweth" kind of feelings. Selina is memorizing Psalm 23 right now for school, so that Scripture is constantly following our family around lately.

...And in this beautiful, still-small voice I felt the Lord speak to me... now is not the time for surface faith, now is the time to go deeper, to learn more of me, to walk with me more intimately. I looked back on my spiritual habits as of late and although I can't remember missing a day of logging my Bible app, I was having a harder time recalling the last time I had logged serious book time with the Word of God. Honestly, my daily devotional habits have felt lately like more of a spiritual pep talk and less of the meat that I need for my day to day.

So I open up the book of Zechariah (mainly because I was intrigued by my daily devotional thought that was in the book of Zechariah earlier today)... and this is what the first verse says, "In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying,".

That was not the profound beginning I was hoping for... certainly it did not feel like the beginning of the climb up Mount Problem which leads you to "my cup overfloweth" status. And then I read the little footnotes in my study Bible. If you do not have a study Bible, I highly encourage you to make this the top of your gift-wish list for Christmas... it will open up your reading of Scripture in ways you never knew was possible. And here is what the footnotes said...

... Like Haggai, a previous prophet, Zechariah (a prophet of his day) encouraged the people to continue rebuilding the temple, whose reconstruction had been halted for nearly 10 years. Zechariah combated the people's spiritual apathy, despair over pressures from their enemies, and discouragement about the smaller scale of the the new temple foundation. Neglect of our spiritual priorities can be just as devastating today to fulfilling God's purpose...

Wow! Neglect of our spiritual priorities can be just as devastating today to fulfilling God's purpose... One verse in a chapter you would not normally flip to and God confirmed everything that I just felt him speaking as I drove in silence on the way home from work.

In order to have all that I was praying for, in order for me to truly walk out God's purpose for my life... I have to shift my priorities... Bigger Mountains watch out, because I am about to go Deeper!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Feeling Inadequate

Moses pointed out that he could not speak well, Jonah didn't have the courage, Jeremiah considered himself too young, and there were many times when Paul was just a bit awkward. Are you feeling inadequate for the call that God has on your life? I think there are times that our greatest ability is picking out our greatness weaknesses. There are so many times when we simply fill inadequate for the tasks, position, or level of influence that God has called us to. And it is almost a guarantee that right when you are about to step out in faith for God or find yourself in mid-jump, you suddenly feel like your insecurities are being flashed with a neon sign on display for all to see.
2nd Corinthians 2:15-17 directly confronts the ugly head of inadequacy.

"For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God."

This verse takes us off the hook. Paul asks "who is adequate" for the task of representing Christ. Doesn't that feel good to know that even Paul who was so educated and had radical encounters with God still felt inadequate for the life God was calling him to? This scripture confirms to us the same thing that 1st Corinthians 3:5 says, "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God."

It is a guarantee that if you are walking out the life that God has called you to, you are going to feel inadequate. Why? Because our adequacy comes from God and these works which He has called us to are for His glory. So how do we combat the overwhelming feeling of inadequacy that paralyzes us in our insecurities? We have to allow God's Word and empowering to speak louder than the lies the enemy produces, louder than the voices around us, and louder than our own brain who more often than not feels logistically overwhelmed with the direction of the heart. Just as we go to the pantry when we feel a rumble in the pit of our stomach, so we must go to the Word of God through Worship, hearing the Word of God, and reading the Word of God to fill the pit of inadequacy with words like... YOUR GRACE IS ENOUGH. YOU ARE MY STRONG TOWER. OUR ADEQUACY IS FROM GOD.

There is a great strength and power that comes from surrender... OUR HELP COMES FROM THE LORD! Praying that today you can walk in the adequacy and security that only comes from Him.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Schooled in Compassion (A Broken Sea Shell)

Selina is a collector of shells. A bit comical that we now live in Florida where she has access to shells almost weekly, but she has collected shells of every kind since she was a toddler and they are all special to her, each one. She always has them lined up on her dresser... to the innocent bystander they might think that they all look very similar, but to Selina, each one is individually special. I guess we all have some special collection of things that we hold dear. As for me, I collect spoons. Yes, you read correctly... spoons. Spoons from different places that I have visited since I was a little girl... But back to why Selina's shells resulted in me being schooled in compassion...

Tonight, we were doing our normal before bed routine... straighten up our rooms, load the dishwasher from dinner, etc. Wyatt's room was a little messier than normal because we have recently had quite a bit of company. Needless to say, I was focused on the task at hand when Selina comes running in to Wyatt's room where I was standing with big tears streaming down her face holding a white shell that had been broken in to pieces. In that moment that shell seemed easily replaceable and white and did I mention white... I quickly said I am sorry now please go finish up your room. She attempted at a plea to glue it together. "Shells can't be glued, you can get a new one next time you go to the beach." Five minutes later, I find Selina standing in her room (having not made any progress on her room at all) attempting to piece this WHITE shell back together. My reply, "So it is fine if I vacuum up the rest of the things on your floor."

And then it happened, Wyatt having just picked up the last toy on his floor went running in to Selina's room and knelt down next to her, wrapped his arms around her, and said, "I am sorry about your shell Lina. I know that was a special one to you." SCHOOLED! Honestly, I find myself in tears even writing this blog entry. Selina immediately looked up at Wyatt with a face that I do not think I will ever forget... SHE FELT VALUED all because Wyatt (my four-year old) showed compassion.

I had gotten so busy and so caught up in the routine of the night and the task at hand that I failed to take the time out to show compassion to my own little girl who as the mom I knew better than anyone how important that shell was to her. I guess I would not have appreciated it if someone accidentally put one of my spoons down the disposal and said, NO WORRIES, I will keep an eye out for you at Goodwill and if I find a spoon that says Boston I will bring it to you.

I am so glad that God does not view us as that easily disposable as I treated Selina's shell tonight. What if God said, oh well Jacqueline really messed up this time so I guess I will just take Jane as a replacement. NO! The Bible tells us story after story of how the Shepherd went after the one lost sheep and the old woman searched desperately for her one lost coin. (Luke 15:8) I can't tell you the amount of times that I have been shown grace and compassion in my own life. And I am so glad that God came searching for me.

A shell of course is not an eternal object and my daughter certainly has the propensity to be dramatic, but I do value what she values and I do care when she is broken-hearted. Selina did not necessarily need me to fix the broken shell when she came running to me to show me that it was broken as much as she needed me to share her sadness. There are so many times when we don't necessarily need someone to fix the brokenness that is in our lives or restore that that we have lost, but more so to stamp value on our pain and for someone to show us compassion. I don't know why, but one of the greatest ways that my husband can fill my love tank is to simply stop and say, "How are you?" Because I know that when he says, "How are you?" he genuinely wants the truth to that answer. We all need people in our lives who will just be genuine and ask us how we are and then wait for the answer, pray with us, weep with us, rejoice with us. (Romans 12:15)

We may not be able to make a difference in the lives of thousands or even millions but who can we validate today? Who can we show compassion to? Who can we simply just offer our listening ear, the chair in our office, the corner of our sofa, or attempt some glue at a broken shell.

Monday, May 27, 2013


I love connecting with women every where I go in pretty much any setting. I love to hear their story and dig deeper to figure out their passion. I have met some of the most astounding women on the planet and for so many of them their greatest weakness is simply themselves. There are so many voices in our lives and it seems that often we listen loudest to the minority voice that tells us we are NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I hear women so often go back to a time where they were in a relationship where they felt there was nothing they could do to be GOOD ENOUGH or they go back to a time where they failed, lost, or if nothing else felt beat down and defeated. Some of the women I have met have had countless mentors and encouraging friends and family through their life, but the loudest voice in their life is the voice in their head that says you are NOT GOOD ENOUGH. There are some women who can't even identify the moment for them that made them feel NOT GOOD ENOUGH, they just always remembering feeling that overwhelming insecurity in their lives. And for others it comes in waves... and the insecurities just hit us all at one time!


That phrase is impossible to measure because every single person that would measure would come up with a different result. If I had an Olympic Judge that judged the 2012 Summer Olympics come and evaluate my five year old and her ability to do a hand stand, they would probably say that her ability is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Should that be the scale that my daughter is measured by at this point in her carefree, desire to flip literally any where that has two feet of open space time of her life? Of course not, so why do we measure ourselves on this type of scale?

Not thin enough, tan enough, smart enough, patient enough, strong enough, savvy enough, pretty enough, energetic enough, spiritual enough, crafty enough, nice enough, knowledgeable enough... and we can all add on our ... enough as well!

And NOT GOOD ENOUGH is not just affecting us... Unfortunately this feeling of inadequacy just keeps getting transferred from generation to generation.

Whether you are a mom of young children or adolescent children, privacy is a novelty. The line from my two year old these days when I say that I am going to try to take a quick bath is always, "I WANT TO WATCH YOU." Translation: I want to be where you are even if that means standing next to the tub while you take a bath. For a mom of adolescents, they always find the time they need to discuss that important, pressing matter or argue their side of the discussion through the bathroom door. They are with you... watching you, hearing you, wanting to be like you. And what they take from their time with us is not just the good stuff... they see every time we fidget with our clothes or look at ourselves disdainfully in the mirror and hear us when we talk to our friends about how we could never do this or that because we are inadequate in this way or that way. They even see the way we look at them when we see things that we don't love about ourselves showing its ugly head in them. They pick up on it all!

Most of the moms that I know would never want their child to feel ugly, inadequate, ill equipped, or daunted but often times they (our children) internalize the inadequacies in themselves because they hear us verbalize our own. We all want to raise our young ladies to be strong, secure women who can hold their head high and chase their greatest passion and believe that it is possible. The very best way to secure this reality is not telling our little princess or our prom queen that she is beautiful and can achieve anything, it is modeling that security in ourselves.

It is so much easier to convince someone else that they are amazing and perfect than it is to convince ourselves that that could possibly be true about us, me! Of course, I am not talking about Mary Poppins perfect, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God as the Word of God tells us in Romans 3:23. I am talking about seeing ourselves through the perfection of the eyes of our Creator!

Can I remind you that God has already equipped you to do what He has called you to do? Can I remind you that when we are weak, God is at his ultimate strength? That you were knit in your mother's womb and that God was not on a 9 month hiatus when you were baking in your mother's belly... he formed every part of your personality, quirkiness, sensitivity, O.C.D., your passions, your desires, your tendencies, your cravings, your everything. And what He is asking you to do is to turn all of that completely to Him so He can show you His great plan! And to truly be confident in Philippians 1:6 that says that HE who began a good work in you, shall be faithful to complete it...

I believe that this confidence and security does not come through a ten step process, it comes in strength every new day that comes when you surrender your life to HIS WILL, HIS WORK, HIS PASSION. Because the less life becomes about us, the less our insecurities have the opportunity to rise to the surface! I am so thankful for God's amazing GRACE that gives us everything we need to be the greatest version of ME!