Holiday Expectations and Traditions: Keeping the Good and Letting the Ugly Go

In the first of the Holiday Break episodes, Cheri and Amy tease out the difficult issues of holiday expectations and traditions.

How do we decide what’s worth keeping and what needs to go?

They come up with key questions to ask and a permission slip to enable you to move away from holiday dread and move toward more delight.

Click the graphic below to listen, and don’t forget to print your permission slip for your fridge while you’re there. There’s an amazing pre-holiday expectation buster there too!

Note: Aren’t into listening to podcasts? That’s ok! We have a transcript of our conversation each week. Click here to access the transcript.

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Episode #16 and Little Note

I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m out of words.

Seriously.

It’s been two years of writing, writing, writing– first my book and then lots and lots of extra writing to get the word out about the book. It may sound funny for an author to say, but the truth is that writing is super hard for me. I’m thankful, but I’m tired.

So I’m going to do what God often calls tired girls to do. I’m going to rest for a little while. I’m taking a rest from writing in October so that I can fill back up with God. The links for Grit ‘n’ Grace will still come to you, but my Monday posts will be missing for a few weeks.

I hope you’ll hang in there with me, because I hope to be recharged with some fresh words and new passion when I come back!

In the meantime, I invite you to take a rest with me if you need it. The world doesn’t make much room for rest, but it was one of God’s priorities from the very beginning. He rested on the seventh day of the very first week ever just to show us how it’s done.

Take a breath.

Rest.

Soak up Jesus in the silence so that you’ll have more of Him to share.

I’ll look forward to coming back revived in November!

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If you haven’t listened to Grit ‘n’ Grace yet, I’d love for you to give it a try this week and the rest of the post-less weeks. 🙂 Cheri and I can’t believe that we’ve already had over 10,000 downloads, and we’d love for YOU to join our little community.

Also, if you’ve been a listener, would you help us get the word out? Share with your friends, and if you’d take a minute to leave a review on iTunes, that would be fabulous!

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We’ve pinned negative labels on some very human processes like play and grieving.

Play is often consider slacking and grief is sometimes seen as a pity party.

Lucille Zimmerman, author of Renewed, explains why both are essential to the full life and how they serve as powerful tools to creativity and healing. Click on the graphic above to listen to the podcast, download great freebies, and enter to win a copy of Lucille’s book.

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When Tangling Words Catch You Off Guard

You’re in for a treat this week, friends! My friend Carey Scott is our guest blogger today, and I love her immensely for many reasons. She’s always a breath of fresh air in my life with her honesty and wisdom, and Carey lives so authentically that she makes me feel brave enough to do the same.

I know you’re going to adore her, so welcome Carey!

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“Are you saying no because of your weight?”

Those words caught me off guard and stung. I’m always amazed at the freedom some feel to say they words they do.

Rather than respond with a full-frontal attack, I used gentle words so I could hide the hurt. “No, I just don’t want ice cream right now. Thanks, though.”

In that moment—at a dinner with old friends that should have been filled with joy and celebration—I found myself in a very tangling situation. I put on a brave face and pushed through. The last thing I wanted to do what ruin the evening for everyone else. But honestly, I’m so tired of just pushing through. Even more, I’m frustrated that I’m still so easily tangled.

Isn’t there a point in our lives when insecurity doesn’t knot us up anymore?

The shaming voice inside tells me I should be able to overcome it. And so often I agree. I’ve known Jesus for most of my life and have seen Him heal my heart more times than I can remember. I know what the Bible says about how much God loves me. I believe that He created me on purpose with purpose. I am a Biblical Life Coach, and speak and write about issues surrounding a woman’s self-esteem.

I know the worth I hold to my Creator, yet here I am again questioning my beauty. My value. My significance.

The struggle to see the truth of our worth isn’t new. Chances are you’re intimately aware of the places you don’t feel like you “measure up.” And dare I say it’s a battle we’ll most likely carry to the grave. Because part of the human condition is wondering if we’re good enough. Those insecurities cause us to take a sobering look at our life to see if we’ve been a success. We want to know we made a difference—our lives, our words, our actions—during our time here. We need to know we matter.

So we wonder… Am I raising my kids the right way? Have I been the kind of wife my husband needed? Am I doing enough to create healthy community and love on others well? Am I a good friend? Have I volunteered enough hours? Am I nurturing my relationship with Jesus enough? Do I handle our finances like I should? Am I as encouraging and affirming with my words as she is? Can I still pull off that little black dress even when things jiggle and wiggle a bit more? Do my opinions and ideas matter?

We want to know that we have contributed to the world in significant ways. We want to know that we are important. We want to know that we’re beautiful in our own way, and that others see it too. And we need to know that no matter what, we are valuable. So when a careless comment tightens a tangle that’s already been tightened around our heart—a tangle that makes us feel unlovable or unworthy—it can leave us feeling less than.

Here’s where it gets so frustrating. I had an expectation of growing out of those insecurities. I assumed that once I was well into my adult years, the need for worldly acceptance and approval would go away and I wouldn’t be so easily tangled by the same old people and the same stupid situations. And while some of my insecurities aren’t as easily triggered as before, words still hurt. So when she made the comment about my weight being what kept me from the ice cream desert, I felt those familiar less than lies flood back into my heart.

But here is the good news…God looks at us differently. He doesn’t measure our value by the way we look, what we’ve accomplished, the money we have made, the health of our body, or any other worldly measuring stick.  God values us simply because we’re His. Here’s proof: “You are the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For the things that are considered of great value by people are worth nothing in God’s sight.”  (Luke 16:15 GNT)

In other words, the world is wrong—plain and simple. And because of that, we can’t allow society’s standard of what is worthy of love and adoration be our truth. We just can’t listen to it anymore.

Sweet friend, here is my challenge to you:

… Ask the Lord to untangle the expectation that you must earn the love and approval of others.

… Let Him heal those places where words have hurt you by replacing them with His truth.

… Ask God to loosen the knots of insecurity that make you feel unimportant and insignificant.

… And live in the freedom that you were created on purpose and hold immeasurable value to your Heavenly Father.

Because when we do—when we truly untangle—words won’t hold the same power over us anymore. So when someone questions why we’re skipping desert (or we get triggered in some other way), we’ll remember that God sees the beauty and complexity of our heart… and delights in His creation!

careyCarey Scott is the author of Untangled, a book where she bravely shares her story of abuse, the insecurities birthed from it, and the freedom she now has through Jesus. She is also an international speaker who loves to have honest conversations about real life. She discusses the struggles women face the most, always reminding them of their immeasurable value. Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more by visiting CareyScottTalks. You can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

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Letting Our Children Stumble (and Grow from It)

 

You all have been hearing from me a lot during the book study, and I wanted to give you a chance to hear some other voices from women who I both love and admire. They all have messages I know you’ll want to soak in deeply, so I’ll give them the spotlight through September.

You’ve heard her voice with me on Grit ‘n’ Grace, but I wanted to give you a written dose of my brilliant and fun friend, Cheri Gregory. Please welcome Cheri!

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I swore I would never be an “After all I’ve done for you …” kind of mother who burdened her children with guilt.

I just wanted to be a loving mom who did nice things for her children.

Until I did nice things for them, and they failed to react with smiles of gratitude, that is. Or, worse yet, acted grumpy or upset, which was decidedly not in my plan.

I wanted to do nice things for my children so they would be happy … or at least that’s the story the People-Pleasing Bully told me. But with People-Pleasing running the show, it was impossible to tell truth from fiction.

It’s taken me years to realize that I didn’t care so much if my kids were happy. I did nice things for them mainly because I could not tolerate them being upset. I needed them to seem okay so I could feel okay.

When they weren’t happy, I didn’t want what was actually best for them. I wanted, and did, whatever would cause my own upset, triggered by their upset, to abate.

Thus, all the “favors” I did them. Thus, my resentment and bitterness. Thus, both my children floundering after they left home. All my “niceness” actually set them up for failure to launch.

I truly did not think of myself as a “helicopter parent” or “smother mother” or “stalker mom” during their high school years. But I was all of these. I jumped in to help too quickly. I didn’t let them fall flat on their faces. I didn’t let them pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and figure out what had happened let alone how to prevent it in the future.

Instead, I meddled, rushing in to cushion each fall.

My reasons were understandable: I had experienced inappropriate pain and disappointment as a child and a teenager, so I was determined to keep my children from suffering as I had. But in protecting them from the inappropriate pain and disappointment, I went overboard and tried to protect them from all pain and disappointment.

While my kids were in high school, I thought that my “involvement” would produce wonderfully high GPAs that would snag scholarships that would launch strong college careers.

I was wrong.

What happened is that both my kids snagged thousands of dollars worth of scholarships but lost them all during their first year. Both were kicked out of the Honors Program.

Why?

I’d created the nice illusion that all they had to do was show up, be their wonderful selves, and everything else would just happen. My daughter sank into a depression her freshman year when she discovered that, on her own, she could not figure out how to keep clean laundry in her drawers, let alone stay on top of homework, let alone keep the GPA to maintain her scholarships and remain in Honors. Jonathon, already an introvert, retreated into gaming for similar reasons.

I now wish they’d spent their final two years of high school as dorm students at the Christian boarding academy where I teach, instead of living at home. Getting away from me would have fostered greater independence. They would have learned many life skills and gained the maturity that comes from not having their own way all the time.

Yes, I would have missed them. But my job wasn’t to hold onto them as long as possible or keep them as comfortable as I could. My job was to facilitate their maturity and autonomy. Had I focused on that long-range goal, they would have been spared unnecessary pain and struggle their freshmen and sophomore years of college.

But People-Pleasing never let me think beyond the present. People-Pleasing kept me hyper-vigilantly alleviating the immediate discomfort of each moment. So when they struggled during their freshman year of college, I blamed them for wasting our money.

Because, of course, after all I’d done for them …

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As God’s been leading me on this journey of breaking up with Perfect, I’ve found that Galatians 1:10 applies to all my relationships, including (and sometimes especially!) my relationships with my children:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. 

Pleasing God means breaking my snowplow parent habits of clearing the path in front of my kids. It means learning to let them experience necessary growing pains rather than protecting them, and myself, from discomfort. It means that I no longer work so hard to avoid disappointment but trust God to carry my children—and me—through through it.

And it means trading my “After all I’ve done for you…” martyr attitude for an intentional focus on all He’s done for us and is still doing in us.

Cheri Gregory Head ShotCheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. She speaks and writes from the conviction that “how-to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” Her goal is to equip women to relate and create with less drama, more delight.

Cheri is the co-author ofThe Cure for the “Perfect” Life: 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver and the upcoming Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity.

Cheri blogs about breaking free from perfectionism and people-pleasing, and being an HSP* at www.CheriGregory.com. She also co-hosts a podcast called Grit ’n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad Rules with Amy Carroll.  (*Highly Sensitive Person) Leave a comment today to win Cheri’s great giveaway set: A copy of The Cure for a Perfect Life,  Braver Living Bible verse set image, “Brave” necklace image. 

Brave NecklaceCPL 3D SquareBraver Living Bible verse cards

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Episode #8: Making Failure Your Friend

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At best, failure is uncomfortable for us, and more often it’s excruciating.

Kathi Lipp shares how she’s learned to leverage failure and view it as a friend.

In our relationships, work, and ministry, we can start to use failure as a tool instead of as a weapon against ourselves.

Click on the graphic above to listen to the conversation, download a freebie, and enter to win a copy of Kathi & Cheri’s book The Cure for the Perfect Life.

We’d love for you to weigh in, too: What’s one step you can take to make failure your friend? 

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The Astounding Shift of Living Pre-Approved

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In Grit ‘n’ Grace podcast episode #4 Cheri and I discuss the one simple word can change the hard places of relationships. It’s a word that can set us free and strengthens our relationship muscles. Cheri and Amy process Jennifer Dukes Lee’s concept of living preapproved—safe in the knowledge of God’s premeditated love for us. It’s a game-changer for mistrust, conflict, and misunderstanding! Click here to listen to the podcast.

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From Shock to Confession

I was at She Speaks the first time I met Emily Freeman, and I thought she was the cutest, funniest, quirkiest (and I LOVE quirky) girl I had ever met.  I still feel the same.

But after reading Grace for the Good Girl and then Simply Tuesday, I thought she might be my artsy, more intellectual alter-ego. Seriously, the way she processes life has mirrored mine in so many ways.

Simply Tuesday was just the right book at just the right time for me—just as I fell into a pit of despair about my own book—and I’m forever grateful for Emily’s words of encouragement found attached to the spine of a great read. Here’s an excerpt she’s allowed me to share. Welcome, Emily!

Be Loved. (1)

One day last week I’m struggling through those old kinds of struggles that never seem to fully go away— self-acceptance, over-thinking, fear. My mind cycles through them as they sit on the lazy Susan of my soul. Pick one up, turn the wheel, put it back again.

So the Susan is spinning at the rate of the world and John walks in to my sunroom office to ask me a simple question and I snap at him for interrupting me as if he had just told me off or insulted my hair or said I looked fat. In fact, he only asked me if I needed anything from the store.

My response has nothing to do with him and everything to do the discouragement festering in my own soul, but I immediately feel both terrible as well as strangely justified.

After we talk through it, after I apologize, after I turn back to my desk to continue my work, I am forced to face the state of my soul. My first response is shock—I can’t believe I just did that. My second response is shame—What a terrible person I am.

Shock and shame are my most natural and immediate responses when I make a bad choice or have a bad reaction. My shock and shame response is a better indicator of the condition of my own soul than having the bad thought or choosing poorly in the first place. If I feel shocked and ashamed when I snap at my husband, maybe I am assuming I can handle life on my own and don’t need redemption, not really. And so when my soul has a bad idea, I can’t believe it….

Shock and shame keep my head a clean distance from my heart. That is a dangerous place to live. I don’t want this kind of disconnected life. The answer isn’t to shame myself into better things. That never works.

Instead, I want to stop being shocked by my own capacity for terrible thoughts and bad behavior. Until I stop being shocked, I will continue to gasp and gawk at every foul thought that comes into my mind. I will constantly point to some imaginary version of myself and then return to my real self and the incongruence between the two will bring only dizziness, discouragement, and hopelessness. My soul simply can’t survive the whiplash.

I have an insane capacity for jealousy, selfishness, hoarding, backstabbing, criticism, revenge, and procrastination. The answer to dealing with the shocking thoughts and behavior I’m capable of is to refuse to be shocked in the first place.

Instead, confess and turn toward love. Be loved. Be small. Belong to Christ.

I want to learn to keep company with my weakness even as I practice walking in the New Way of Christ. The only way I know to do this is to confess, both my sin and Christ’s righteousness–to continually accept my capacity for sin, but embrace my potential for health, restoration love, forgiveness, patience, and hope in Christ.

I want to remember I am capable of making bad choices while also bearing in mind the baffling choice of God: he chose to make his home in me even though he knew exactly what he was getting himself into.

I want to always see my ability to choose the old but rejoice in my freedom not to.

I want to be aware of the darkness but identify with the light.

Refuse to be shocked, confess your smallness, and receive grace, forgiveness, renewal, and belief.

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EmilyThat’s some crazy good truth, isn’t it? If you’d like more of where that came from, leave a comment to enter to win a copy of Simply Tuesday and Breaking Up with Perfect. I hope YOU win! 

Also, to connect with the cutest, funniest, quirkiest God-girl you’ve ever met, visit Emily at her blog by clicking here.

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Breaking UpwithPerfect

And don’t forget to get all your ducks in a row to be part of my FREE online book study of Breaking Up with Perfect starting August 1. Click here for all the details and to sign up.

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Love Idol & An Invite

I’m so excited to share this week’s podcast with you!!! Cheri and I interviewed Jennifer Dukes Lee about her book Love Idol, and she instantly became one of my new favorite people. You’re going to love her too!

She shared a word that’s been changing my life ever since we talked to her. Don’t miss it! (Also, the free dowloads are to die for, and I’m printing out Every. Single. One.) Please read the rest of the post and then go to the podcast by clicking on the image.

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I had a little melt-down this week when I realized that my special invitation to my subscribers was cut off from what you got in your email box this week, so here’s a copy. I wouldn’t leave you out for anything!

Breaking UpwithPerfect

 

On August 1st, I’m going to start a study of Breaking Up with Perfect right here on the blog and also on a private Facebook page. If you struggle with hiding behind a facade of perfection… If you wonder why your relationships aren’t what you want them to be… If you are exhausted from trying (and failing!) to live the perfect life… then this study is for you!

Click here to find out all the details and to sign up today!

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When People Want to Tell You Who You Are

I got a nasty-gram last week. She said that I’m spoiled. Indulged. Ungrateful. Whiny. A bad example. And unchristian.

Ouch!

The truth is that I can be all those things on occasion. Can’t you? (If think you’re never any of those things ever, you might want to unsubscribe from my blog today. We’re going to keep it real here.)

I’m not defined by those flaws, though. They aren’t the predominate markers of my character, but that’s only because of Jesus. Without Him and Holy Spirit who lives in me, I’d sink to all the lowest denominators. I’m sure of it.

But because of Jesus, those names don’t stick to me. In fact, I was able to laugh at such a caricature and also to have an achy heart for the hurt of the person who would write such things to me.

How have I gotten to that place? You might want to know since we all deal with nasty-grams in some form, and they aren’t fun.

First, I have compassion on the person that called me those names because I’ve done the same thing to others. I’m not bold enough to write them in a comment, but I sure have thought them. Based on my own flawed perceptions, I’ve labeled others with my own list of negatives. A series of events in the last few weeks have reminded me to remember that there are tender hearts on the other side of conflict. My perceptions don’t always reflect the whole story, so labels and names have no place.

Second, I’m learning to remind myself of the names that God calls me so that the way others define me doesn’t touch me.

I’ve been reflecting on this particularly in the sense of calling. What if my calling is questioned by others? What if the work of my calling is actually stripped away by circumstances? What does that mean for me?

I thought about Paul who constantly started his letters to the churches with a statement of his calling:

Romans 1:1, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…

I Cor. 1:1, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”

II Cor. 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”

Galatians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead”

Ephes. 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] the faithful in Christ Jesus.” (Look what he did there! Called them by their name too!)

Over and over again, Paul restated his calling. Check out all his letters. They almost all start this way. Why?

I definitely think it was a reminder to the church, but could it be that Paul was reminding himself too? Had people attacked him and questioned his calling?

We know they had! In II Corinthians 10:10, Paul said, “For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.'” Whew. Sounds like Paul received a nasty-gram or two himself, and the whole chapter sounds like a defense of his calling.

Let’s do what Paul did. Instead of being crushed under the weight of the words of those who misunderstand us or want to purposefully discourage us, let’s remind ourselves of this truth over and over:

Today, if you’re overcome by unearned criticism, the negative commentary of naysayers, or circumstances that aren’t going your way, put your trust in God’s hands and repeat like Paul repeated, “I __(insert your name here)__, am called to __(insert your calling)__.!”

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I want y’all to know that I read every comment, and you are each precious to me for leaving it. Although there are too many to reply to them all, I pray over them as I read. You are loved!

Congratulations to Tammy (6.10.16 7:22 am)! You are the winner of a copy of Breaking Up with Perfect from your comment left last week.

 

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