A Wedding Celebration

I always cry at weddings. Always.

At a few I’ve cried because I was worried about the marriage lasting past the wedding (Sorry if that’s too honest, but it’s true), but mostly I cry because they’re holy.

Weddings are a set apart time that reflects so much of the glory of God. In fact, Ephesians 5 tells us that marriages are a reflection of the divine mystery of the relationship between Christ and the church. God has woven a love for weddings into our heart to point toward His intimate love for His church. Amazing.

I attended three weddings last year where I shed joyful tears, and because you may love wedding pictures as much as I do, I thought I’d give you a peak. (Can you say “Yes to the Dress” obsessed?)

This is my niece Anna,who is the first of her generation to get married in our family, and her husband Tyler. It was pure delight to watch them plan a celebration of their love that shone a spotlight on Jesus. All the little touches that honored both families made the time abundantly special! (Don’t you love the delight on their faces?)

Anna sent me a picture that I didn’t know about proving that I cry at every wedding. This is actually me crying (I know I look like I’m laughing, but I’m covering for my sentimental self.) at Anna’s REHEARSAL. I’m a serious marshmellow.

Whitney and her new husband Charlie had a service that radiated Christ and reflected their personalities so perfectly that I giggled over and over through my tears. When I used to drive middle school carpool for Anson and Whitney, I couldn’t wait for the pre-teen version of Carol Burnett to get in the car everyday, so it was no surprise when their recessional was “Linus and Lucy”, the Peanuts theme song!

I celebrated big at both of those weddings, but there was a third wedding where I not only celebrated but I was challenged to think about the coming marriage at the end of time in a new way. Barry was invited by the bride’s family to play his sax in the wedding, so I was invited along for the ride. You might not be surprised to know that when I found out it was to be TWO weddings in a day–one American and one Indian–I sent a “yes” RSVP right away.

Even though I’ve seen wedding processionals in India, I’ve never been part of an Indian wedding, so I attended each part of the ceremony with excitement. At the very beginning, before the bride arrived for the ceremony, the groom and his family gathered for a processional to where he would meet the bride for the ceremony. Check out this amazing video of the beginning of the procession. The groom is in the white hat.

This celebration went on for almost half and hour with different family members as well as friends dancing with the groom. At the beginning, I was grinning ear to ear enjoying all the sound and color and pure joy, but soon I realized that tears were streaming down my face. I had started thinking about Jesus.

This. This is what I believe the marriage of the Lamb will be like. It will be a celebration like none other. Jesus the Bridegroom will come to get His bride, and I believe that the abandoned celebration reflected in this little video clip will be the heartbeat of that wedding procession.

Yes, I know that we say we can celebrate in our hearts with a quieter exterior, but is it really true? Just think about how our culture celebrates anything else… great performances on a stage, stunning wins on the field, etc. We’re exuberant and loud. We’re cheering and whistling. We’re dancing and waving.

Do we celebrate Jesus that way? Will we be ready for a Bridegroom who comes with exuberant joy?

I want to be ready to dance at the marriage of the Lamb. “Believe”, my word for the year, is giving me dancing lessons. My life is just as imperfect and messy as in 2016, but my perspective has changed. Believing what God says is absolutely true is making my heart light. Each day as I follow the steps in the previous post, I feel my faith growing, and it’s making me want to celebrate.

How about you? What’s making you want to celebrate these days?

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Beyond Wallowing

Happy Thursday, friends!

I’m so happy to be here with you today. I don’t know what it’s like for you outside, but the sun in shining in my heart when I think of all of us here– a gathering of girls who just want less perfectionism and more joy. That’s what I call freedom!

Freedom. What a beautiful word. It’s right up there with another word I love which is “celebrate”. Celebrate is one of those words that sounds like what it is– balloons, pink icing, and raucous-sounding party favors. Toward the end of last year, I had decided that “celebrate” would be my theme for my January blogs, but I got side-tracked.

I wanted to celebrate, but first I needed to heal.

Now I’m ready to celebrate, and I hope you are too! I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how tough 2016 was, but I want to move on. I’ve never been a wallower, and I don’t intend to start now. Jesus promised us abundant life, and I don’t want to settle for less,

Make sure to come back next week for a video I’ve been saving for months to share with you. I promise that when you watch it that you’ll fully enter into the mood to celebrate with me.

In the meantime, I want to give you a little assignment this week that I’ve been doing since the beginning of January that has lifted me out of any remaining funkiness and washed the wallow right off of me. Here are the steps:

  • Choose a word for 2017 or dust off the one that you started with.
  • Do a little scripture study of your word. You can type it right into BibleGateway.com to find all the verses that contain your word.
    • Your word isn’t in the Bible? That’s ok! Choose a synonym or word that expresses the meaning of your word and search for it. ie.  Your word is “sparkle”. Search “light”.
  • Answer these questions and take some notes on one verse a day:
    • What does it say? I just write out the verse word-for-word.
    • What does it mean? Write down the main idea that God is trying to get across.
    • What do I apply this? Write down an action step to make in your current circumstances based on the truth God showed you.

Next week, I’ll share the video and some insights God has been filling my heart with about my 2017 word.

Want extra inside scoop? Click here to watch this 4-minute video I made for Kathi Lipp’s blog!

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Don’t Miss This Excellent Advice for the New Year

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you had a joyful and restful Christmas season and are ready to jump into a fresh start.

Truthfully? 2016 was a tough year for me. (I’ll share more about this next week and why I know 2017 is going to be better.) In fact, it fell into the “overwhelming” category, so I’m invigorated by the idea of a new beginning!

If you felt overwhelmed last year too, I’ve got a treat for you. My dear friends Cheri Gregory and Kathi Lipp have just released their second book together called Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity. It’s a genius book chock full of ways to change our thinking and practical steps to take to reclaim a joyful life.

This guest post written just for us from Cheri is rocking my world (and making me laugh myself silly– BONUS!), so make sure to read to the end and leave a comment today to enter to win a free copy of the book. It’s just the advice we all need to maximize 2017!

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The Regret vs. Risk Conundrum

I never saw the Jell-O.

I should have been focusing on my family; we were all gathered at Griswold’s to celebrate my eighth-grade graduation. But I only had eyes for the cute guy at the table next to ours.

That wavy blonde hair! That surfer tan!

After casting him several sly glances, I was sure he was staring at me. Or would be, if I could just catch his attention.

As I got up to get more salad, I wondered, How can I make an impression on him?

I knew I was dressed to impress. After all, I’d tried on and discarded a dozen outfits before settling on a velour blouse, flowing skirt, and—best of all—my very first pair of high-heeled shoes.

I exuded all the sophistication a clueless preteen could muster.

Look confident. Confidence always makes an impression.        

While heaping baby spinach on my plate, I squared my shoulders. As I poured salad dressing, I practiced casual hair flips.

Walking back to my table, I picked up my pace and was thrilled as my new high heels tapped the rhythmic beat of my bold stride. Just as I passed the table next to ours, I flashed my well-rehearsed, spontaneous smile.

Which is why I never saw the Jell-O.

Suddenly, my right foot shot out from under me. Bewildered, I staggered back, lurched forward, then pitched my tray as I became a windmill of flailing arms and legs before sprawling flat on my face.

Even with my skirt and slip flipped up over my head, I heard the entire restaurant laughing at the spectacle I’d made of myself.

Especially the cute guy at the table next to ours.

I’d made an impression on him, all right.

How Perfectionism Poses as Our Protector

Whenever the question, “What’s your most embarrassing moment?” arises, I pull out The Jell-O Incident.

As an HSP—a Highly Sensitive Person—I experience my emotions with extra intensity. So thirty-seven years later, I still feel all the overwhelming feels of that day:

The dashed hopes.

The public humiliation.

The burning shame.

I never want to feel that way again!

Amy and I recently had a great conversation about how Perfectionism keeps us from taking risks. (If you’re a Grit ‘n’ Grace member, you’ll get to listen in, soon!)

Perfectionism poses as our protector.

We tell ourselves, I never want to feel that way again!

And Perfectionism is quick to assure us: “As long as you don’t take any risks, I promise that you’ll never feel that way again.”

Is Self-Preservation Worth the Loss?

For decades after The Jell-O Incident, I avoided anything that would make me feel that way again. 

All activities during which I could slip and fall—literally or figuratively—were totally off limits.

No dancing, no charades, no karaoke, to name just a few.

Looking at this list, my logical reaction is: Oh, well, nothing important. No great losses.

But my eyes sting as I recognize all that I’ve missed for so long:

Fun. 

Play. 

Celebration.

Such staggering losses, all in the name of self-protection.

What Perfectionism Fails to Disclose

When Perfectionism presents itself as our protector, it fails to disclose one vital truth:

Risks hurt less than regrets.

Not the kind of foolish life-threatening risks that wisdom and discretion guide us away from.

But the kinds of harmless risks that are just for fun. Risks that help us get over ourselves. Risks that connect us to other people, via laughter shared and memories made.

Risks like dancing (perhaps badly), playing charades (that nobody can guess), and singing karaoke (totally off-tune).

Perfectionism insists that we should regret every time we try and fail.

But when it comes to harmless risks? My greatest regret is failing to try.

Playing it safe.

Not risking enough.

Being a perpetual prisoner of perfectionism.

Finding Freedom to Risk

John 8:36 (ESV) offers these words of hope:  “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

The astonishing truth is that you and me? We are free!

Free to take harmless risks. Free from unnecessary regrets.

So whenever that old Jello Incident sense of I never want to feel that way again! rises up again, I’m learning to reassure myself with words like these, which you’re free to us, too:

Oh, I’m going to “feel that way again”—over and over again. It’s part of life. 

I’m okay. I don’t have to take it too seriously. 

When I find myself on the floor, I can catch my breath. Get back up. Take a bow. Laugh it off. 

I’d rather take risks than live with regrets.

We are free indeed.

The Giveaway:

Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of you!

To qualify for the drawing, you need to do TWO things:

#1. LEAVE A COMMENT below.

#2. SHARE THIS POST on social media.

That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on Monday, January 9th, so don’t delay! {Contest is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

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Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California

About Overwhelmed:

Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.

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Episode # 23: How to Add WOW to Your Holiday Wardrobe

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What to wear? What to wear? With humor and practical tips, Cheri and Amy, along with special guest and professional stylist Kim Nowlin, attack the bad rules of holiday fashion and body image.

Don’t miss this one–dress yourself to match your inner sparkle this holiday season!

Click on the graphic to listen, access the transcript, and download some fun freebies.

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Episode #22: Truly Yummy

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Although it’s pretty funny to have a host and co-host who are challenged in the kitchen talking about the ultimate holiday meals, Cheri and Amy get to the heart. Food isn’t just fuel for our bodies; it’s juice for relationships too.

Click on the graphic to listen to the podcast, get links to some great resources, download some of their favorite recipes, and to access the written transcript too!

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Creating Intentional White-Space in a Black-Out Season

Is there an alternative to filling our calendars and emptying our wallets with endless activities and trips this Thanksgiving and Christmas?

This holiday season we can make proactive decisions that leave more margin for joy in our interactions with others.

Cheri and Amy give two word mash-ups that will help us identify what’s worth it and what’s not.

Click on the graphic below to listen, and don’t miss the great free downloads! (If you prefer reading to listening, you can download the transcript instead.)

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Episode #17: Choosing to Be Human

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Cheri and Amy process lessons learned from Lucille Zimmerman about play and grief.

There are choices to be made in both. Will we choose the bonding of play? Will we let time soften and redeem? Click on the graphic above to listen.

While you’re at Cheri’s site, please make sure to take a minute to complete the survey. We’d love to hear what you think and who you’d like to hear interviewed in the future!

Coming Next Week…

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We’re taking a break October-December: a holiday break!

For the next ten episodes, we’ll be giving you permission to break holiday bad rules and offering you practical pointers to totally rock holiday delight.

We’ll keep things short, sweet, and a wee bit sassy—without a stitch of guilt.

Join us next week as we kick off the Grit ‘n’ Grace Holiday Break. And by all means, invite your friends.

It’s waaaay more fun breaking bad rules together!

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Episodes #13 and #14

While I was out of town, two new episodes of Grit ‘n’ Grace aired. You won’t want to miss these, so click the graphics below to listen to the show, access great free downloads, and enter the giveaway. 🙂

Episode #13:

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Cheri and Amy discuss the hard but important work of developing new ways to develop greater happiness.

As they examine their own happiness habits (and their opposites!), gratitude, hope, and choosing the positive emerge as ways to break out of the rut of our default to unhappy.

Episode #14:

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For most reforming perfectionists, peace seems like the ultimate goal no matter how it’s attained.

Sheila Wray Gregoire shares that true peace is often attained through painful conflict. She helps us to understand the difference between conflict and fighting.

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