You will NEVER be good enough

I sound so cold and harsh don’t I? Growing up I always thought of myself as a “good” person. I was nice to others. I didn’t do the “bad” stuff other people did. I worked hard in school and got good grades. I did the “right” thing. I also always put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. I don’t like making mistakes. There was one problem will all of my thinking. I was NEVER going to be good enough. No matter how much I tried my best efforts would always fall short.

It took me a long time to realize this and what it fully meant. By whose standard was I “good?” What exactly does that even mean? How good is good enough and who is the judge of what is good and what isn’t?  Who is good enough? From a secular perspective, we can argue this point a LOT. We could go rounds and rounds and never quite agree. However, the answer from a Christian world view is quite different. You will NEVER be good enough. That is the point.

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6

We are ALL sinners and all fall short of the glory of God but we like to categorize sin into degrees of bad. Really no matter the sin, it is all the same to God and this is a TOUGH pill to swallow. So the murderer is as sinful as the liar? The rapest is as sinful as the gossiper?

Once I got over my pride and realized I wasn’t all as great as I thought, there was a peace in this knowledge.  There was this acceptance that came with this knowledge and a certain amount of freedom in my mind. Talk about taking a weight off my shoulders! I cannot nor will I ever be good enough. I can’t earn my way to heaven or earn favor. I can never do enough good in this world to get into heaven.

Romans 3:23 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 3:10 10As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

Romans 5:12 12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned-

So what happens to us as imperfect people in this fallen world? We go to hell. BUT there is another way.

Romans 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is Jesus! Even while we were sinners and God knew we would sin, He died for us. He took our place because what we really deserve is death. See we really don’t deserve anything.

Romans 5:8 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So what can I do? You can admit that you are a sinner and ask Jesus to forgive you for your sins.

Romans 10:9-10 9If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is LORD,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Does this mean you are going to be perfect? NO! Does this mean you won’t ever sin again? NO! So what does this mean? It means that you recognize you are not good and will never be good enough. You need help and that help is Jesus. This doesn’t mean life is going to be easy or that you won’t have any issues. When you mess up or sin you should feel the conviction of the holy spirit and feel that something is not right. Whereas before maybe you didn’t feel bad and kept on doing it. Take heart and REST! You cannot be perfect and there is no point in trying. Have peace!

Jessica

 

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Do they deserve less?

Over the years we have encountered more and more missionary families. We have also run into more and more families wanting to be plant churches. Of course all of these families need to raise support in order to do missions, plant a church, etc. You get the idea. Well, it wasn’t until we were doing our own mission trip and raising support that my own attitude was revealed.

We all like to have what we want. Maybe some people like nice houses, others like nice cars and yet some value vacations. We all have an area in life that we spend more money in or make a priority. Some are called to plant a church or go into the mission field and many times that involves relocating. Do these people deserve to live a life any less comfortable than the ones we live? I find myself thinking that a pastor should live in a small house and drive a used car and not have any luxury items. I mean after all they are a pastor!

Why is it that we feel certain positions in society should get more status? I found myself looking at families in mission field or pastor’s families and wondering why they drove such a nice car or wore such nice clothes. Should they really be allowed to take their family on a decent vacation? It was like I expected them to live in poverty in order to have the correct spiritual life. It comes down to they are just people like you and I. Sure the bible holds them to a higher standard because the pastor will have to answer to God in a different way then I will since he responsible for teaching in the church, but does that mean he shouldn’t have nice things? It comes down to the heart. Sure if he was spending all of this money on luxuries instead of tithing then we have a problem. But if they are spending responsibly is it an issue? Maybe they even got some of the things we see as a gift.

We had missionaries at our church in Michigan that basically spent their entire lives in Africa. They would pack their belongings among toilet paper as to not waste any space in the box and to have it when they arrived. They really had to think ahead and lived very simply. Absolutely nothing wrong with this at all. Even as I went to their house once they retired in the United States they lived very simply. I guess they just realized what they needed and what they didn’t.

So a few thoughts to challenge ourselves:

  1. Do you look at people in spiritual positions and think they should have less than us? Where do we draw the line? What is too much and what is too little or too luxurious?
  2. What do we have in our homes currently that we don’t really need? Where are we spending money in excess? What could we get by without and give that money to someone else or to a need or cause?

Maybe you don’t agree with me and that’s ok. Share your thoughts anyway.

Jessica

It’s not OK!

My daughter, Kayla, soon to be 5, was at swim lesson and had wandered away from her classmates and over to say hi to me and her sister. I prompted her to go back to her class and her teacher was looking for her! After class I pulled Kayla aside and told her she needed to go apologize to her teacher for not following the directions and for wandering off. Kayla did and her teacher responded telling her it was ok and that she was just concerned about her safety. Now I have responded in a similar way several hundreds of times over saying, “It’s OK.” It wasn’t until recently and with my husbands help that I changed my response.

It’s not OK! She certainly should not have walked off no matter what the reason was but see we don’t know what to say when someone says I’m sorry. My husband, who always has the brilliant ideas in the family, has taught our girls to say “I forgive you.” Even when I start to come up with a difference response he will prompt me to say “I forgive you.” Really no explanation or anything more is needed. Forgiveness does not equal forgetting but it does mean that there is reconciliation. Just like we go to Jesus with our sins and ask for forgiveness. God doesn’t tell us that our behavior was OK. The bible doesn’t say “Oh, don’t worry about it.” It was wrong. It was sinful and we deserve punishment but we are forgiven.

How do you respond when someone is asking for forgiveness?

Forgiven

I’m the one who held the nail
It was cold between my fingertips
I’ve hidden in the garden
I’ve denied You with my very lips

God, I fall down to my knees
With a hammer in my hand
You look at me, arms open

Forgiven, Forgiven
Child there is freedom from all of it
Say goodbye to every sin
You are forgiven

I’ve done things I wish I hadn’t done
I’ve seen things I wish I hadn’t seen
Just the thought of Your amazing grace
And I cry ”Jesus, forgive me!”

God, I fall down to my knees
With a hammer in my hand
You look at me, arms open

Forgiven, Forgiven
Child there is freedom from all of it
Say goodbye to every sin
You are forgiven

I could’ve been six feet under
I could’ve been lost forever
Yeah I should be in that fire
But now there’s fire inside of me
Here I am a dead man walking
No grave gonna hold God’s people
All the weight of all our evil
Lifted away forever free
Who could believe, who could believe?

Forgiven, Forgiven
You love me even when I don’t deserve it
Forgiven, I’m Forgiven
Jesus Your blood makes me innocent
So I will say goodbye to every sin
I am forgiven

I am forgiven

 

Saying Goodbye

About 5.5 years agindiana-dunes-state-park-1848559_1920o now Adam and I made the move from Michigan to Iowa but let me tell you how it started. Out of college I got a job in the northern suburbs of Chicago and I was driving 1.5 hours to work and living with my mom. Adam graduated 6 months after me and got a job in the south western suburbs. He then got a call for a job at Stryker, a medical device company, in Michigan and not only was the cost of living cheaper but they were offering more money and better benefits. So we got married and moved. I have to say I was completely excited about this new journey. At first I didn’t like Michigan but grew to love it.  We lived there for 8 years and then I had started having panic attacks at work. Through a series of events and decisions, that I will have to save for another post, I decided to stay at home and finished out the school year. Well, then Adam decided that maybe we should move back near his family and so we started that ball rolling. Our house was on the market for almost a year. Adam was driving back and forth between Michigan and Iowa and would be gone a week at a time. So I decided in January 2011 that I would be done in June. April Adam changed jobs. November I got pregnant with Kayla and finally in February 2012 I was struggling to have Adam gone all the time and pregnant and caring for our kiddos! So we moved into an apartment here in the Quad Cities and 3 weeks later we had an offer on our Michigan home. The crazy part was we decided to move a week before we actually did. We found an apartment and BOOM we were gone!iowa-1731555_1920

I remember thinking how in the world are we going to say goodbye to everyone. I don’t have time to see everyone. Well, my sweet friend, who was also my neighbor, invited us over for dinner on our last night and after dinner the doorbell rang and her house began to flood with people. She had invited everyone to her house to say goodbye! It was very sweet and VERY hard.

Why do I share this with you? Because now we have lived in the Quad Cities for about 5 years and this year has been an interesting one. I’ve made a couple good friends and a few more I was just getting to know and they are all moving! I’m sort of tired of saying goodbye. So here is the rundown:

4 friends have moved for husbands jobs (2 this month)

1 left to go to the mission field

Another in slated to leave in the coming month for her husbands job in Europe for 3-5 years.

2 more have told me they will be moving in the next 1-2 years.

I know I still have friends here. I also know that I can do long distance relationships! I have two great friends from college who I get together with 1-2 times a year and it’s like no time has passed. One of those friends I talk on the phone with at least once a week and usually more. We just got done visiting friends in Michigan and one of those families comes here a couple times a year. These friends are ones that have come to my parents funerals, who sent cards when my parents passed away, and who check in on me. So I know it’s possible but at the same time it is difficult. I haven’t had a chance here to develop some of those deep relationships yet but they are coming.

One point I want to make about all of this is that sometimes people come into our lives for a season. Sometime they come in forever and sometimes it’s a mix. Each friendship and interaction is meaningful and adds to our life in some way. Even if people come and go.

What advice do you have for making friends, staying in touch with friends or for saying goodbye? Or simply share a story of a time when you left or a good friend left and how you coped.

Jessica

A Year Of NO!

I recently, well about a year ago now, was invited to attend a book club. I have to say I have read only 1-2 of the books! I’m not a stellar member. I tend to read self help books or fluffy books. I was hoping that the book club would help get me out of my comfort zone. I tired but I ended up not finishing several of the books! Anyway, someone had told me about a blogger that posts what books to read that year and so I took a peak. Her first suggestion was Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I got it from the library and I eagerly dove in. It’s been a great book. All about a women who wrote TV shows and was always saying no to everything and even the most amazing opportunities and so she decided for a year she would say yes to everything.

As I was reading the book I thought, “I say yes to everything already.” I have the opposite problem. I say, “yes” so often that I neglect my family and myself because I put others before me. As noble as that sounds there is a point where it is not helpful. Seriously, what if I said, “no” for a year. If each time someone asked to watch their baby, or take their kid somewhere or go out. What would happen? The thought frightens me. I hate telling people no. I feel like I let them down or I’m not helpful or they will think I am not caring. But each time I say “yes” to another thing I’m really saying “no” to something else. As she rightly points out in her book no one is doing it all. If we are saying yes to homeschooling, I’m saying no to re-entering the workforce. If I say yes to helping out a friend by watching her kids, I’m saying no to getting much done around my house. Not even the most put together women does it all. No one can. We are only human.

Where do you need to say “no” or “yes” in your life? Sometimes are friends encourage us to do one or the other but no one really knows are individual situation so be sure to do whats best for you and know when its a needed push and when you need to stand your ground.

Share with us how you protect your time while still loving others!

Jessica

“The Talk”

I’m not sure why the topic of how to talk to your kids about sex has come up lately for me in conversation but it has. Let me first tell you my experience growing up. There was NO talk about sex or things to do with it. If I had a question, it was answered but don’t remember asking much. The two things that stand out in my brain are getting my period and thinking I was dying (I was in 5th grade) and finding Playboys in my parents closet and my mom telling me she was fine with it because she needed to know the competition! I was also exposed to my first and only viewing of pornography that I remember at a friends house in 6th grade.

Why do I tell you all this? Because it has caused me to be VERY diligent in making my kids experiences and awareness in regards to things related to sex very different from my own. When my kids were 1, 4, and 6 I began to research and read books on how to talk to them, what to say, when to say it and more. So here is what I have come up with from all my reading.

  1. YOU need to be comfortable talking about sex and your body first. This can be completely awkward. I hated going to the doctor or asking questions and always felt so embarrassed! I was so scared and sometime in my adult years I started asking some close friends some questions and if something was normal and it was such a relief. Over the years it has become easy to ask questions or even say the word “sex” without cringing or getting red in the face.  When you talk to your kids they will notice if you feel uncomfortable or awkward. You need to create a safe place for them to talk and not feel like you are dreading it.
  2. Be the FIRST one to introduce anything to them. Of course tailor the needs to the child and tell age appropriate information BUT it is key that the first time they hear about sex and menstruation is from you! You don’t want them to hear about it from other kids first. You want to be able to set the stage and honestly in this day and age that time is between the ages of 6 and 9! I know its crazy! It’s so early but yet its out there and your child may already know more then you care to think!
  3. Stick to the facts. When I say “sex” a whole list of images and thoughts race through your head because you have experience and background. You’ve seen movies, heard stories, etc. but to your child sex is just a set of facts. It’s just like explaining how the car works or how to do chores. It is just matter of fact. This does this and that. DONE! No need to elaborate or add too much details.
  4. Speak early and often. You may not think sex education starts earlier then 6 and you may think it’s a one time event but it’s not. From the time you child is born call the body parts by their proper names: penis, vagina, breasts, etc. I’ve heard some people assign cutesy names to body parts but we need to stick with the facts. It can cause issues down the road. Also try to have regular conversations about their body and issues they may encounter. For instance, I went and talked to my kids all about sex but failed to discuss more practical things like bras, tampons, pads, deodorant, self care, etc. Encourage your child to come and talk to you about concerns they have even if they are small.

So how do you make the leap and where do you start? There are some resources available. For things specific to sex we used two different resources.

  1. God’s Design for Sex Our library had them. It was nice because they have one for kids that are around age three and simply addresses the differences between a boy and a girl. There are four books total and I haven’t used them all yet but have looked at them. They go into more detail into transgender and homosexuality at the later age.
  2. The Talk This person used to work or possible still does for covenant eyes. She developed this simple curriculum to use to talk about the specifics of sex. My kids actually find it all very interesting.

As far as talking about body stuff in general and difficult topics we used the American Girl Doll Books. They were simple and covered a whole bunch of stuff like glasses, deodorant, pads, tampons, eating disorders, all things I’m not sure I would have thought of on my own. There is one for younger girls and one for older girls. You will just have to see which one works for you.

Be sure to set aside time to intentionally go through this. We do a morning reading time with homeschool and in the summer we read through the American girl doll one. As for the deeper topics I always tend to go over this in the summer. We have more time and aren’t rushed. I go over the information every summer so that it stays fresh and offers a chance to ask more questions.

I’m careful to tell my kids that this isn’t something to be ashamed of but it’s also not something appropriate to talk about with friends. It’s for them to discuss with parents and each parents choice to decide when to talk to their own child. If someone were to bring up the topic I encourage my girls to tell the person that they will need to talk to their parents.

I try to keep things private that are going on with my kids and realize that to us it isn’t a big deal but to them it is the END of the world! Adam and I try to have open communication and I make sure to let the girls know they can ask dad about things if they choose and that he has knowledge but they certainly don’t have to!

We also personally teach modesty from the start. Adam will bathe our girls but once they reach around 6-8 I take over and help with bathing and really by this time they are doing it by themselves but he doesn’t walk in the bathroom or bedroom while they are changing as they get older. He also does not allow the kids in our bathroom once they are about 2 to see him naked. I will say my kids still walk in on me all the time but I have 3 girls and I am a girl so that is why we have allowed this. Make it what you would like with your family.

If your kids are in public school almost every school I know of has a “sex education” curriculum that starts at kindergarten or first grade! I know it seems early and usually they notify you and you can opt out but there is a list of topics that will be discussed at each age. You have the right to see it and know what they will say about  how each topic will be approached. So please be informed!

I’m sure there are things I have missed and I don’t have all the answers by any means! What questions do you have and what resources have you used? What works for your family to talk about the tougher topics? I love learning from others and what they do so please let me know your feedback.

Jessica

Am I teaching my kids to be emotional eaters?

ice-cream-1617025_1920

So who doesn’t like a treat? I mean I LOVE ice cream so much that for our wedding the grooms cake was an ice cream cake and really meant for me! But back to the topic at hand. I am not above bribery for my kids! Hannah had to get cavities filled and that can be scary so I told her if she did well she could have a chocolate shake. If we are at church they get hot chocolate. If they sing in choir at another church there are donuts. They get treats at homeschool events. We are doing a day camp at church this week and there will be treats every day. Now of course I have no issues with my kids having a treat but it seems like they are around every corner. Please let me know if you don’t feel the same way. I love to hear the other side.

So we were down in Peoria last fall to watch my husband’s nephew’s football game and we had a nice time. On the way home we decided to stop at an apple orchard. We went through the store and got cider, honey, donuts, caramel apples, apples, etc. and spent a pretty penny on all of it. When it came to walking around outside I noticed they had an area to play but they wanted $8 per person no matter the age. So for 5 of us that would be $45 which seemed to me like a lot of money.

Fast forward to a week or so ago and all of a sudden it hits me. As I’m looking at budgets and thinking about food and money I’m realizing my thinking is all wrong! I was willing to drop a bunch of money on food and “tangible” items but I wasn’t willing to pay $45 to create a memory. I always want to walk away with something or get something from what I put my money toward but that means we buy a lot of treats and food. We get tired of all the little trinkets around the house so we tend not to buy souvenirs but isn’t creating a memory and an experience just as important?

As I examined my heart I found that I was focused on all the wrong things. I had been taught to reward, comfort, etc with food but why not change my thinking and reward with spending time together or experiencing something together. Why not spend money on an experience or a memory instead of food or “stuff.”

Alternative to food rewards: go for a walk, play at the park, play a game together, go hiking, date with a parent, reading a book together.

Alternatives to eating out/food: trampoline park, splash pad, swimming, biking, softball, tennis.

What are some of your ideas in this area?