Friday, October 29, 2010

The Truth IS …

I have a devotion running today with Proverbs 31 Ministries called Joining the Geek Squad. It’s about Daniel becoming a part of the Babylonian king’s pack of advisors.  And how the wisdom of God preserved him there when things got dicey.

You should know I don’t consider the term “geek” derogatory.  Note, I married a professor. And I’m just as likely to read a research article in an academic journal as I am to read Better Homes and Gardens. I’ve even been known to read Matthew Henry’s Commentary poolside.

Poke around this website and you’ll find I refer to myself as “a word geek who has fallen in love with the Word Made Flesh.” After all, He is the source of all grace and wisdom. And the amazing thing is, He’s willing to share it with us!

I’m sometimes asked why I wrote my new book It’s No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know, and that’s the reason.  More specifically, Jesus’ comment to His followers in Matthew 13:11 propelled me.  He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you.”  I was captivated by the notion that God was willing to share His secrets with me. So I set out to discover what they are.

It's No Secret front coverAs I dug through the Bible I found many such secrets – biblical teachings that run counter to what our gut or culture tells us about successful living.  The word secrets used here is translated from the Greek musterion, which means a sacred hidden truth that is naturally unknown to human reason but is made known by revelation of God. (I probably read that poolside while the other moms wondered what hefty reference book I was toting now.)

These God-sized secrets contain the keys we are looking for—answers to the issues of modern life, such as exhausting schedules, unpaid bills, relational conflicts, and unmet expectations. So I selected twelve of them I felt were particularly pertinent to women today and wrote the book.  I would’ve included more secrets but the other moms assured me they don’t like toting around 3 lb. books.

The truth is, the secrets contained in the pages of my book are nothing new or hidden at all. They’ve all been wrapped within the Word of God and the person of Christ for thousands of years, readily accessible through the ages.  But each generation of women must encounter and apply these truths for themselves.

As we do, we not only uncover the uncommon wisdom of God, but we also uncover our truest selves.

**So here’s your chance to snag a copy of the book and find out the secrets.  My publisher David C. Cook is giving away a copy of It’s No Secret today on their Facebook page.  All you have to do is follow this link and once there, post to complete the sentence: My favorite place to read is ______________ .

I think you know where I like to read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Goals and how to reach them

Last week in my published devotion and corresponding blog posts I encouraged people to make rest a priority. And as means to that, to declutter their bedroom and treat it as an important space. As a sanctuary of sorts for body and soul. I heard from many - via blog comments, Facebook, emails and tweets - that they were going to do so. I wonder if they did.

In fact, it got me thinking about the purported link between writing down goals and achieving them. And between making a goal public, and then making it happen. Would telling me they were going to do something create an extra sense of motivation or accountability? What about commenting on FB versus just giving it a thumbs up "like"?

I've seen multiple references - even in published books - to a 1953 Yale University study proving a link between writing specific goals down, and future success. Sometimes it's claimed to be Harvard study rather than a Yale study. But the thing is, the study didn't take place  - at either university. It's a myth.

What isn't myth is a study done by Dr Gail Matthews at Dominican University that did find a strong correlation between writing down goals - actually spelling them out - and reaching them. I know when I write out my to-do list, I accomplish more than when I just hold the task list in my head. And I'm not really a list-writer type by nature. But is that true of big goals too, like opening a restaurant, or losing 50 lbs., or writing a novel?

What do you think?  Will writing down, "I will write a novel during NANOWRIMO 2010" actually help you start and complete a novel next month?

What if you don't write it down, you just talk to your friends about your plan to do it? Earlier today I came across this video clip about the effect of verbally telling someone your goal as opposed to keeping it to yourself or keeping it on paper. It's only a couple minutes long - check it out.

So, apparently, it is helpful to write goals down but not necessarily to tell someone about it.  I wonder if that is true of each of the 4 classic personality types.  Maybe it depends on who you tell?  Like if you tell your sister you want to drop 50 lbs, versus if you tell your local Jenny Craig consultant. What do you think?

Have you found writing down your goals to be effective in motivating you to achieve them?  What about telling people what you plan to do, has that usually helped or hindered you in achieving your goal? What works for you in real life when it comes to reaching your goals?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fabulous Bedrooms

We’ve been talking about two of my favorite things this week on the blog: Great Friends and Good Sleep! Deep thanks to each of you that participated in the devotional carnival. It’s such a pleasure to visit your blogs and read your posts and get to know you, I’ll post the winner of the prayer journal at the end of this post.

In January I wrote a post about food writer Mark Bittman’s NY kitchen. I was surprised at how small and modest it was.  Then I did a follow up post with multiple pics of small kitchens showing small can be fabulous.  That post still gets multiple hit every single week!

So in similar fashion, I thought I’d ask you which of these beautiful, relaxing bedrooms is more your style?  Tell us which one of these you’d most want to rest in. And if you’ve been decluttering your BDR as I suggested this week, or thinking about sprucing it up, maybe you’ll get some inspiration here.





 interior bedroom decorating, Delman shaker Bed, Pottery Barn

Cozy bedroom




I like so many of these – I want to spend a couple nights in each!  But the first one and the last one are closest to my bedroom style. My BDR is not quite as shabby-chic rustic as the first and not quite as modern minimalist as the last. But like these two, I like a warm mostly neutral color scheme and lots of textures on my bed, windows and floor … with a hint of romantic glamour. Which of these rooms caught your eye?

The winner of this month’s devotional carnival prize, according to’s true random number generator,  is participant #18.  That’s Kelli Zaniel based on Mr. Linky’s list.  Congrats, Kelli – send me your address and I’ll mail you the prayer journal.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sleep Solutions

(If you’re just now popping over from yesterday’s P31 devotion – welcome! – and be  sure to read the post below this one for my top 6 tips to better rest.)

Several years ago I made a big investment in better rest, and it's been one of the best decisions I’ve made.  Our mattress needed replacing.  After weeks of research I bought a mattress made entirely of latex rubber from an online company on the other side of the country.  My mattress arrived via Fed Ex in 3 boxes about the size (length and width) of a baseball bat. The boxes were small but very heavy - I drug them up the stairs. 

The company warned me not to open the boxes anywhere except where I wanted the mattress to go.  Once I cut those boxes open I realized why … my vacuum-packed rubber mattress came out like a jack-in-the-box, instantly reaching full size! It was wild, but oh so comfortable.  Before buying I read testimonials from customers saying they had cut their vacations short because they missed their latex mattress so much.  As a fun-loving, travel-going girl, I couldn’t fathom that.  I’m still not cutting my vacations short, but now I know what they mean.

Of course you probably can’t buy a new mattress today (and I bet you’re not so sure you’d buy a rubber mattress online if you could) so what are some simple things you can incorporate in your routine tonight to invite rest?  Many were mentioned in yesterday’s comments.  I’ll share & link some of my favorites.

Liquid Warmth. Sip something warm – milk, tea, hot cocoa – as long as it’s caffeine free. Try an herbal tea. Many, like mints and chamomile, have a mild relaxing effect.  I like Sleepytime tea.  On this same note, there are natural herbs you can take to help you unwind for sleep as well.

Bubble bath. Or a mineral salts soak. It relaxes muscles. It also raises your body temperature, inducing sleep as it drops when you get out. A hot shower can do the same. Throw some aromatherapy in for extra relaxation.  Here’s a couple inexpensive bath soaks I like, available at most drug stores. Want a custom-scented bath product? Try an e-tailer like Cleanse Your Soul.  Want to know my latest obsession? This Coconut & Papaya Body Wash.

Dim lighting.  Our bodies are designed to respond to the setting sun by slowing down and resting. Instead we turn on lights and stare into bright screens! Put the computer away before bed.  Turn off the TV. If you read before bed, use a small book light. I put many of the lights in my home on dimmer switches.  You can even put a lamp on a dimmer with one of these from Home Depot. Candle light is especially relaxing, why do we use it so rarely?

Soothing Sounds.  I play instrumental music frequently once I’m ready for bed.  I have a small stereo in my bedroom that holds 2 CDs.  It will play one, the other, or both back to back. I switch out the CDs every few weeks. I have lots but some of my favorite sleep CDs are an Ocean waves CD I’ve had for years, a thunderstorm one, and  Santorini Splendor.  I also have this one that is supposedly scientifically based. Lots of people sleep with a fan on for white noise to quiet their mind –I have a ceiling fan. There are even online places to find soothing sounds like or pzizz.

Bottom line is between this list and yesterday’s you can make some major strides towards better rest. You’ve just got to make it a priority.  Stop treating it as a nuisance – giving it last place on your list. And recognize that rest is God’s gift to us – one with which we can give honor back to Him. Need more convincing?  Try this article.

As for who will be settling in with a cup of herbal tea  and my book after a relaxing bath …. the winner is Maria S.  Maria, email me your address so I can put the book in the mail for you. If you didn’t win, I trust you will receive the gift of better sleep.  And the book is on sale this week at P31 if you’d like to read it. I’d be honored if you’d spend a few of your evenings with me via It’s No Secret.  :)

Did you declutter or make any changes last night?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rest better tonight

Welcome if you’ve come over from my devotion published at P31 today. Pause and go read it if you missed it.  And if you like to write, be sure and check out my last post and jump in on the carnival fun – you could win a prayer journal. As promised, here’s six practical tips for better rest.

1) Declutter your bedroom. Begin this today – finish it as soon as possible. Work on it section by section this week until you’re done.

What you’re thinking when you nod off affects your sleep, and your mood when you wake up.  If you are surrounded by stuff, projects, things that need sewing, things that need cleaning, things that need putting away, things that need giving away, things that belong downstairs, when you lay down you are going to feel like there is so much you still need to do.  When you wake you will feel already behind.  (Translation: you will feel self-defeated and guilty about resting.) Get that stuff out of your resting space!

2) Strictly limit what comes into your room.  This is how you hold the line once you’ve decluttered.  Let your bedroom serve a few main purposes: relaxing or sleeping, dressing, and intimacy with your spouse.  You may be surprised at how much decluttering can help with that last one. It’s not that you can’t read in bed or wrap a present on the bed sometimes but don’t make your home office in your bedroom.  Or set up your crafting business in your bedroom.  If you have no place else in your home to do such things, figure out how to put it all away or out of sight at night. That will signal your brain that creative/work time is over.

3) Pray. Spend sometime unwinding with God.  Pray through stressful issues from your day – turning your troubles over to Him.  Give Him thanks for blessings from your day – reminding yourself He is good, powerful and trustworthy.  This is how you turn laying down to sleep (or a warm bath before bed) into a spiritual discipline. Drift off with your worries released and your mind centered on Him.

4) Keep a notebook by your bed. If to-do type thoughts come to you while you are trying to fall asleep, or trying to pray,  jot them down and then let them fall from your mind.  The paper will remind you tomorrow. You can also jot down things that come to you as you pray.  Or write down a few things you are thankful for from that day to jumpstart your prayer time.

5) Give yourself permission to invest in your rest. Do you like it dark?  Get lined curtains. Put your bedside lamp on a dimmer switch.  Sleep better when cool? Invest in a programmable thermostat that automatically makes it cooler at night but brings the temp back up in time to wake.  Is it time for a new pillow or mattress? We spend 1/3 of our lives asleep.  Think about how quick you are to go buy something you will wear once to a special event!

6) Exercise. As a small little shoe company would say, just do it. What ever time of day works for you. Whatever exercise works for you – even a 15-20 minute brisk walk around the neighborhood works wonders.  Just do it several times a week.  You will rest better.

So, which of these do you need to do? Got any strategies that help you unwind for rest? Post a comment and be entered to win a copy of my new book It’s No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know (follow the link to preview the first couple chapters or peek inside at Amazon). Tomorrow I’ll announce the winner, post more tips, link to some articles, and share some specific products that help me rest.

Sweet dreams!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Devotional Carnival - Friendship

I love my friends. I'm certain I would  grow suicidal depressed without them. I'm not the kind of gal that needs to talk for an hour on the phone with my friends every day, or meet weekly for a standing lunch appointment. But I do need to connect regularly with girls-who-get-me. Teacher types get me. Writer types get me. Perfectionistic procrastinators get me. Women with a deep love of pajamas get me. Those with a slightly quirky sense of humor usually get me. But no one gets me as much as my fellow sisters who follow Jesus.

Thank God for His Yahweh Sisterhood! And that's exactly what I was thinking we'd do for this month's devotional carnival.  Want to participate?  Great, because I want to read what you'll write about your sisters in Christ.  Here's what you do.  Write about anything at all to do with friendship/sisterhood/needing each other. Include a key verse that ties in and keep it under 700 words. Mention the carnival in your post. Then paste a link to your post in the box below.

Next, check out your fellow sisters' posts. Finally, leave a comment telling me what type of friend gets you, and what book(s) you'd like to buy during P31's big 31% off sale this week.

I'll be reading your devotions this week and picking a winner on Friday to receive this prayer journal.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Adam's Winner & psst...

The book winner is Heather Deaton - commenter # 67.  Congrats, Heather!  Send me your address and I'll send you my book. (Here are your random numbers:  67  Timestamp: 2010-10-18 02:41:32 UTC)

Now for those of you who did not win ... shhhhhhh ... I have a secret to share with you. Don't tell I told you this a day early but this coming week  - for the entire week - you will receive 31% off anything and everything you order from the P31 online shop. So you can order It's No Secret for 31% off the list price!

We have never run a sale like this. Don't tell I told you so but this was my idea (so please help me show our executive team it's a good idea!).  I figured I'm always looking for a good reason to buy a book I've been wanting to read, and what better excuse than a great sale with the added bonus of supporting a non-profit ministry bringing women around the world godly encouragement and truth each day online and on the radio. Save money, support a ministry, get a good book, and impact others for eternity - that's a win-win-win-win in my opinion! So I hope you'll pop over and order the book.

Speaking of devotions, tomorrow I will post the directions for this month's devotional carnival which will run on my blog all week as well. Like to write? Have a blog? Then you can participate! It's all kinds of spiritual fun. Plus, you'll gain some blog traffic and maybe even win a prize.  So check back tomorrow for details on joining the devotional carnival on topic of the sisterhood of Christ.

Meanwhile, I'm off to bed.  My friend Marybeth Whalen was in town this Saturday and we stayed up way too late gibber-jabbing and giggling.  That's one thing I love about the sisterhood.  Finally my husband got to meet Marybeth after all these years. He said he approves and that she can sleep over anytime.

But just not tonight because tonight I need to invest in a good night's rest. So, sweet Jesus Dreams!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Adam’s Disease

Do you too struggle with “Adam’s Disease”?

King David  developed a case of Adam’s Disease after giving in to his lust for his neighbor’s wife. He tried to cover it up.  He did not want to confess.  Look at what he said about that period of time in Psalm 32: "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer... I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my sin to the Lord"; and You forgave the guilt of my sin" (vv. 4-5).

Proverbs 28:13 makes it clear that if we want to prosper in God, we must be honest about our sins:

“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

Ultimately pride is the root cause of Adam’s Disease. And confession is the needed prescription.

It takes a humble and contrite heart to say, “I was wrong,” or “I am sorry,” or “Lord, I have sinned.”  When we have a humble view of our sin and our need for grace, we have a clearer view of God and his Gift. It creates a grateful rather than a prideful heart. So maybe you’d like to pray with me today:

Lord God, I recognize that I sin. So often my good intentions do not come to fruition.  I don’t do what I wish I would do. Other times I do exactly what You and I both wish I would not do.  It is hard to face up to the wrong that is in my life. And it’s hard to admit to You and to others.  Lord, create in me a clean heart – help me to recognize my tendencies to sin and turn from them.  I need to feel that I have forgiveness from You. Your Word promises forgiveness for those who are in Christ Jesus. When I feel Your forgiveness, I feel clean and good inside – I feel free to be who You want me to be. So forgive me and help me forgive others who wrong me.  Cleanse me and make me radiate Your grace today.

In Jesus’ Name, I pray.
It's No Secret 3D cover 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my new book It’s No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman  Should Know.  I’ll announce the winner here on Sunday evening.  Blessings ~ Rachel


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Secrets & Truth

Tuesday evening I headed to Barnes & Nobel after teaching at the university. The woman in the chair next to me was reading a book by the title "The Secret" (I'm guessing you know the one I'm referring to) and talking on her cell phone at the same time. She was trying to convince her friend that she needed to read this too.

I prayed for her, and her phone friend, and then tried to tune them out and look at a few books. 

But the things this woman was spouting as truth were just too cringe-worthy. She was saying that we -meaning people - created the earth. With our thoughts.  She was saying that we - meaning people - make up God.  We are God, collectively.  She was saying that aliens out there watch us and visit us because we are their ancestors - that they study us like archaeologists would.

Then she added that we're all slowly turning into aliens with enlarged heads and small jaws. She pointed out that she works in the dental field and that people today have fewer sets of molars than people used to - and this was evidence for the alien theory.

I tried but I couldn't quite tune all this out. A shudder formed somewhere down in my spirit, rose up through my marrow, shook my Jesus-lovin bones and gave me the willies. I wanted to explain to her that, truly, it's no secret. I even thought about walking 3 aisles over and grabbing a copy of my new book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know to give to her. But I never got the chance to interact; she talked on the phone the entire time.

So I prayed for her once again and then left for home. Only I couldn't get her out of my mind. Or the fact that knowing truth is so crucial to life. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." That's why it matters where we get our truth from.

God's Word is truth.  It is alive and active!  It is sharper than a doubled-edged sword. It divides between bone and marrow and reaches into our very soul. And when you have God's truth at work in your soul, your mind is renewed, your life is transformed, and you become truly free.  

Glynnis Whitwer wrote a challenging devotion today, and then she wrote on her blog about about being sanctified by God’s truth. Pop over to read it and to comment for a chance to win a copy of my new book. (In It's No Secret I walk readers through twelve divine biblical truths that are particularly relevant to women today. It will get you into God's Word, and get God's truth into you!)

I hold to the conviction that if God created life, He alone gets to define it. He is the Reality Maker. And His Word, the Bible, is our reliable source of truth. When we dig into it and follow it, we are changed. We are sanctified. We learn to live and to love a life of truth.

So head over to Glynnis' blog - I'm hoping you win that copy of It's No Secret she is giving away. And if you would, please pause and pray for that secret-seeking woman I encountered to find the Truth.

Grateful for access to Truth within the pages of the Bible!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wishing We Were (still) Here

I’m already missing the women of Weddington UMC church.  I’d joined them this weekend for an annual fall retreat to speak on several chapters from my new book It’s No Secret. It was a terrific weekend start to finish, with worship, powerful testimonies, good small group discussion, and and some free-time fun.

Oct. retreat and baby shower 012 Oct. retreat and baby shower 014 

Plus, the weather was gorgeous in Myrtle Beach this weekend.  See for yourself. This is where I prayed each day for God to open and fill my mouth. And where (wrapped in a blanket) I thanked God each night for the ways He’d shown up in our conference sessions.  I wish I could’ve packed you in my suitcase and taken you with me.

Oct. retreat and baby shower 006Oct. retreat and baby shower 001Oct. retreat and baby shower 002

Oct. retreat and baby shower 009

On Friday, the 15th, we’ll do another devotional carnival here on the blog. Let’s write on the theme from this weekend’s retreat: Our Yahweh Sisterhood. How has the sisterhood of Christ functioned in your life?  I look forward to reading what you’ll share. I’ll post more details later this week. Meanwhile, you can look at last month’s carnival as an example – just click the devotional carnival tag in my labels cloud in the side bar.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Giveaway and a Runaway

I'd planed to announce this Kindle winner last night. But then something got in the way.
A something that looks like this:

Let me explain. Last Thursday after the big rain, my daughter found an eastern box turtle in the neighborhood and promptly brought it home as a "pet." Naturally, I objected to this notion.  But she was sooooo excited.  I bit my tongue and figured I'd let her keep it for 24 hours.  We were about to go on vacation anyway. Turtle went into a large Tupperware box in her room.  And she fed it earthworms and hard-boiled egg.

Before we left on Friday she arranged for a neighborhood boy to turtle-sit for her. So when we returned home on Monday evening, so did Turtle to my slight chagrin. Yesterday morning, Alaina left for school and left the turtle-in-the-box with me.  That turtle tried ALL DAY to climb out of that box.  I felt so sad for it.  I even talked to it in the high-pitched, cheery, animated voice I usually only talk to babies and puppies with.

When she got home from school she took Turtle out to "exercise" in the back yard. A soon as it hit the grass it ran fast as it could to get away.  Uh, yeah, that doesn't work when you are a turtle.  Anyway, before leaving for soccer practice, she put Turtle back in the box but left it outside. So I then put Turtle on the grass with box overhead so Turtle could enjoy the ground for a change.  Ahh, dirt! 

At dusk I went out to bring him in - but he was gone. He finally managed to shed the box. Alaina would be crushed. Plus, I honestly feared she'd think I purposely let him go. So hubby and I spent the evening searching the entire backyard in the dark for a runaway turtle.

You may be happy to know I finally found him. Buried under pine straw a mere 4 feet from the box.

You may be sad to know, I don't think he has moved since going back into that box.  I think we broke his little turtle spirit.  Or maybe he is just exhausted from yesterday's great escape.  Clearly, I've got some turtle research to do. And I think Turtle needs a proper name. Let me know if you got any ideas.

On to the big announcement .... The winner of the Amazon Kindle 3 with wi-fi and a $10 Amazon gift card is:

Here are your random numbers: 114
Timestamp: 2010-10-06 00:55:15 UTC

Commenter #114 MOTIV8EDBELIEVER.

Congrats Motiv8ed ... email me your contact info so I can have your prize mailed.

As for the rest of you, if you are feeling really sad about losing out on the Kindle, give me a call and I will talk to you in my high-pitched, cheery, animated voice if it will make you feel better. And if the prospect of my "baby-talk" voice scares you, I just learned you can head over to Shari Braendel's blog today for some fashion advice and a chance to win a copy of my book It's No Secret.

I truly wish I could afford to give you each a Kindle, but I now sense some vet bills in my future.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Glory of Overlooking

Relationships are hard.

They're hard because people can be complicated, inconsistent, moody and opinionated. Also because we do dumb things sometimes. Insensitive things. And we have an ill-fated tendency to lash out at people when we feel threatened by them.

Despite these tendencies, the Bible calls us to live at peace with people. Part of that is knowing when to simply overlook an offense. In the example I shared in my devotion published at P31 today, a friend lashed out at me when I didn't agree with her plan of action. I wanted to save her what I felt would be a huge mistake. But she felt judged, or unsupported when I questioned her decision. She fired at me in anger.

She and I had known each other a long time. And I knew this was not the sort of thing to end our relationship over. She lost her cool in the heat of the moment and said some things she would no doubt later regret. But I've done that before.

I think it's biblical, when you feel transgressed against, to see if there is some log in your own eye that you have missed while fixating on the speck in your neighbor’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5). Let their mess up serve as a reminder to check our own eyes and our own actions. That doesn't excuse or make their actions just, it just keeps us from charging forward in a hypocritical manner!

In my flesh I certainly wanted to defend myself. I wanted to "hit back." But then again, I didn't really think she believed those things she said about me. Nor did I think she would continue saying them once she calmed down. And in my spirit I realized anything I'd say in that moment - in my own anger and defensiveness - I'm likely to regret. I'd be placing a log into my own eye, so instead I bit my tongue.

Sometimes we need to pause - mouth shut - long enough to ask:

•   Have I truly been wronged here, or am I just offended?

•   Is this person truly against me, or are we just not seeing eye-to-eye?

•   Are we arguing over a matter of personal preference, or a matter of scriptural right and wrong?

•   Does this have long-term ramifications, or is it something that'll likely not matter to either of us a month from now?

If it is an offense that can be overlooked, then the Bible says it is to your credit to do so.

"A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." ~ Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)

Of course, God doesn't expect us to remain quiet in every situation - He doesn't insist that we be a whipping post or a door mat to sin. Rather He calls to us to look clearly at situations and the relationships involved and proceed in ways that will bring truth, light and hopefully peace onto the scene - as much as it is up to us.

So if there is a relationship in your life you're struggling to grant grace in, or a transgression you need to overlook, leave a prayer request and I'll pray for you and for them. And if you can get your hands on my new book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know, chapters 4 & 7 might be of further help.

Thankful for the peace God can provides even in the face of strife.

PS. Did you know I'm giving away a Kindle E-reader? There is one day left to enter - click here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Overcoming Perfectionism

So after yesterday’s post I trust you see how counterproductive perfectionism is. It is not your friend!  It works you like a slave.  Or else, paralyzes you from accomplishing anything for fear of not performing perfectly. It saps your joy, sidelines you from opportunities, and erodes your relationships.
Are you are ready to kick it to the curb?

Great – but you’re probably gonna need Jesus in order to do that. 

These are deep-seated tendencies.  Knee-jerk ways of thinking. Auto-pilot ways of reacting.  They will take time, effort and some supernatural help to overcome. But I assure you IT CAN BE DONE. Nothing is impossible with God. 

No, that doesn’t mean that if you have God you can work full-time as the top employee, raise 3 well-mannered & high-achieving kids, keep a beautiful large home, cook regularly, serve as PTA vice-president, teach Sunday school, make your own hand-stamped cards, volunteer at the soup kitchen, plant annuals every spring, stick to a vegan diet plan, read a book a week, keep your nail polish from chipping, never forget a  friend’s birthday, and run marathons. It means that with God you have all you need for life and godliness – including the ability to overcome the tyranny of perfectionism.

chipped-polish We have to come back to the sobering truth we started with in Monday’s devotion, and chapter 7 of the book.  And that is that “life and godliness” is not about stain-free carpets, blemish-free faces, chip-free nail polish and typo-free reports. It’s about giving and receiving love. It’s the character of our heart, not the surface level issues we’re stressing over. We have to reprogram with this truth.

With all that said, I promised you some practical strategies for overcoming perfectionism, and here they are:
  • Set realistic, reachable goals based on what you have accomplished in the past. This will enable you to rein in unrealistic expectations and experience the satisfaction of achievement.
  • Set subsequent goals in a sequential manner. As you reach a reasonable goal, set your next goal one step beyond your present level of accomplishment.
  • Relax your standards for success. Everything does not need to be perfect –in fact, everything cannot be. Choose any activity and instead of aiming for 100 percent, try for 90 percent, 80 percent, or even 70 percent success. This will help you to realize that the world does not end when you are giving less than 100%.
  • Learn to discriminate among tasks.  Decide which tasks you want to give high priority to and which are are less important to you. On less important tasks, purposely put forth less effort in favor of increased rest and emotional stability.
  • Focus on the process of doing an activity, not just the end result. Evaluate your success not only in terms of what you accomplished but also in terms of how you accomplished it. Did you remain calm and loving?  Did you enjoy the process?
  • Use feelings of anxiety and depression as opportunities to question yourself: “Have I set impossible expectations for myself in this situation?” “Am I giving in to fear?” “Have I lost sight of what’s essential in God’s eyes?
  • Confront the fears that may be behind your perfectionism by asking yourself, “What am I afraid of?” “What is the worst thing that could happen?” “… What does the Bible say?”
  • Recall a recent mistake you made and list things you can learn from it. Mistakes are powerful learning tools. Most growth and success involves learning thru mistakes.
  • Pray daily, giving your stresses and to-do list to Christ to oversee. Remember that His priority is your character and relationships, over your accomplishments. Meditate on verses like 2 Peter 1:3, Psalm 18:30-32, Ecclesiastes 7:16-18, and 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Have a great weekend this weekend with your friends & family.  And don’t sweat the small stuff!! I’m off on a weekend getaway with my crew to Myrtle Beach.  But I’ll check in here some so feel free to comment.