Comparison is Lethal, Celebrate Instead

I will never forget the late night when I was dozing off in bed and Scott said these dreadful words, “What’s the worst thing I could tell you right now?” A surge of adrenaline had me sitting straight up, wide-awake responding, “You’re having an affair?” He chuckled, “NO! I got laid off today.” Biggest sigh of relief ever, because in my mind, losing his job I could deal with, an affair…devastating. So, I don’t think that was his ploy in sharing the bad news, but it worked because after I let my mind go there, I could totally deal with the idea of job loss. At that point, we decided as a couple that he would pursue his dream of writing. He’d already been writing in the evenings. He’d also had a quadruple by-pass a few years before, which significantly changed our perspective on the future. I had the bright idea that he should pursue his dream while I would be the breadwinner. My family (even today) think that's bizarre and some of them even say so. But I live with him and know how hard he works to write stories, homeschool our daughter and remodel The Barn. I believe in our church’s motto that “We give up something we love, for something we love even more.” So, while I support Scott’s pursuit of his dream, sometimes I question why he has yet to publish a book. I even question God, out loud, “God, if You are all-powerful, surely You can make this happen?” I am pretty sure this is me mocking God. As Francis Chan says, "Christians have amnesia." I forget His timing is perfect and does not conform to my plans. Ha!

This past month does mark exciting times in the lives of two of our family’s friends. A year ago I might, no, not might, but would have whined to the Lord, “Why can’t Scott sell a book? He works so hard. I work so hard. Why, God?” But I called that what it was, sin. And after one of those painful growing periods, I moved past the sin. Now, I’m celebrating their success because (1) they’ve worked hard too and we aren’t the only ones with BIG dreams; (2) their message of Truth is powerful and impactful; and (3) their success makes me believe it is still possible for us. Shouldn’t success come in threes?

Over a decade ago, we used to “act” in our church’s hellhouse each October. Brent McCorkle, was the quintessential Jesus actor.  “He looks just like Jesus!” the scared-to-salvation viewers would exclaim after seeing him resurrected at the end. He really was perfect for the part. He went on to pursue his lifelong dream—a film career, which we followed and rooted for. His directorial debut, Unconditional, hit theaters and hearts this past September. Personally, it helped propel me out of the funk I was in at school. I’d been having a rough start to this academic year and was cranky blah, blah, blah. This film reminded me why I do what I do as a public educator. I change the lives of kids and that’s pretty significant.

Our close friend Kyle Sherman is also enjoying an exciting milestone with the release of his album Hear Me on iTunes and in stores. I love this quote from his website: “Kyle’s life demonstrates what can happen when our timing is set aside for God’s timing.” Kyle and his sweet family have been pursuing this dream for the past decade, this did not occur overnight.

The point of this post is two-fold, first to shamelessly promote our buddies’ endeavors, but also to share my “recovery” from jealousy. Conviction first came from Beth Moore’s Bible study James. In week one, day four she discusses how comparison is lethal! It slapped me upside the head because I was doing this, comparing others’ success to our own, and I was toxic. Moore says:
“We talk as those who believe God is omnipotent and omnipresent, but we often act as if he can only work through one person, one method, or one kind of ministry at a time. If we don’t refuse ourselves the indulgence [of comparison], we can lapse into the mentality of a spoiled child who thinks that, if God shows [my friends] favor, He must hate me.”

Yep, I was that spoiled child stuck in a trap. Moore had us personalize Galatians 2:8, “God who is at work in the ministry of _____ as a servant to _______, is also at work in my ministry as a servant to ________.” God is BIG enough to do both!! I’m so thankful the Lord used her study to help me along the way so that I can now stand here in a place of celebration instead of comparison.

So, Scott, Brent and Kyle as you continue to pursue your dreams, as one who writes, as one who directs, as one who sings—remember I Peter 4 verses 10 and 11 (NASB): “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”


Pep Talk to My SELF!

This school year I have resolved to maintain a positive attitude and not gossip. We're two days in and all I want to do is stick a fork in my right eyeball!! #fail. Is it Friday yet?

I have lunch duty this year. Part of my time is spent with kinder, and the other half makes me really appreciate the independence of fourth graders. This is not the FUN part of my day, but I found a tender, silver-lining moment today. A little five-year-old boy asked me if it would be okay if he said a prayer to himself before he ate. Melt-my-heart precious.

A long time ago, Scott and I decided we were going to have a "So what!" attitude. Not the one where we don't care about anything. The kind of attitude where we give people the benefit of the doubt. Where we don't automatically assume that the other person purposely set out to get on our last nerve. Well, "So what?" is a phrase we constantly spout off to remind each other that: the only person hurting is our self when we harbour negativity. Well, lately I've been struggling to let some injustices go and I feel like letting out an all caps kinda scream...SO WHAT! It's hard to be positive, but it is better.

I cannot get all caught up in comparing and jealousy. It steals my JOY. It does not add years to my life. I have to let. it. go. Get caught up in the things that WILL matter in a 100 years and release the things that will not matter by week's end. I have to revel in those tender moments. I need to laugh more. Dr. Adolph Brown says, "If you aren't having FUN, you're not doing it RIGHT." I want to get it RIGHT this year.

Another area I #fail is self-loathing. Seriously, I have an impressionable tween daughter that is learning to love her self and I have to be a good example. She hears me. And then she repeats me. There is NOTHING more convicting than hearing your daughter talk badly about herself and then have the epiphany that she sounds JUST LIKE HER MOMMA! Forget the fork in the eye, try knife through heart.

Ok, so let me add LOVE SELF (or at least reduce self-loathing) to the short list of things to do. Especially since I just looked at pictures from my daughter's birthday party and thought I looked so hideous that I threw up a little. I am pretty sure I've nearly gained the 20 pounds my mom lost over the past two years.But that's a whole 'nother blog post.

Think of these as New {School} Year Resolutions:

+Maintain a positive, "so what?" attitude.
+Don't gossip. Build up others.
+Reduce self-loathing.

Any friendly advice for pulling this list off? Anyone else setting goals or making resolutions?

*All graphics have a tag to denote the website where they were discovered.


My Personal Relationship With Christ

Describe your personal relationship with Christ.

Recently, I was asked to describe my personal relationship with Christ. How do I put into words the intimate relationship I have with my Lord (who also happens to be the Creator of the Universe) in short form answer, especially to someone I have never met? It’s like describing how I breathe. Actually, that might be an easier task!

This question makes my mind hurt. I know I Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Since I knew the Bible told me to be ready to respond, I figured my response was also in the Word. 

As I was searching for the aforementioned Scripture, I came across a verse that embodies how I aspire to live: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20. I realized this sacrifice at age 21, but over the past fifteen years, He’s been whittling away and there has become less of me and more of Him. 

I have adapted a quote from my pastor @CraigGroeschel that I jotted down in an old notebook to (partly describe) who He is to me: 
          When I am overwhelmed, He’s my Peace.
          When I am hurting, He’s my Comforter.
          When I feel lost, He is The Way.
          When I am lonely, He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.


A Room of Her Own

For Christmas this year, our goal was to give Olivia her own bedroom. She's been sleeping in the living room (if you can even call it that:) since we moved into the barn in February.
We did not succeed, but she is gracious and understanding and a great actress. She's the BEST! Next payday, we'll purchase the flooring at REstore, Habitat for Humanity's resale store. She loves having her own space and it already looks lived in, aka messier than I'd like.