31 Days of Imperfection

Comparison and Grass Watering {Day 6}

When I was younger and would imagine what it would be like to be “mom”, I never could have imagined I would first be in this role with a teenager, let alone one from another country.  A colleague who found out about my AFS journey recently made the comment, “Good luck!  I think there’s a reason that the teenage years typically come along much later in the parenting process.”  It’s true, my path to “volleyball mom” has been anything but typical but I’m kind of glad.  

Currently, I’m reading an amazing book called “Fresh Out of Amazing” by Stacey Thacker.  The chapter I just finished this morning was all about how we compare ourselves to each other as humans and come to the conclusion that “She’s Amazing and I’m Not.”  Whether this is looking at someone else and thinking they have their lives together or simply desiring what seems like someone else’s “amazing” life, it is so easy to fall into this trap.

The author uses the story of Rachel and Leah from the Bible (Genesis 29) as she discusses comparison.  In case you don’t know the story, here’s the short recap:

  • Leah was the older sister; Rachel was the younger sister
  • Rachel was beautiful; Leah was not
  • Jacob loved Rachel and worked for 7 years to take her as his wife
  • On the wedding night Rachel’s dad married off Leah instead of Rachel to Jacob 
  • Jacob worked another 7 years so he could marry Rachel too
  • So yes, in short, he married both sisters
  • Leah could have kids: Rachel could not
  • Jacob loved Rachel, but not Leah

Okay, so now we’re all caught up on the story we can see that this is one big mess.  (Side note: it’s stories like these that make me believe the Bible is true… you can’t make this stuff up!!!)
Out of all of this what struck me this morning was the fact that Rachel had Jacob’s love but longed for children.  Leah could have children, but simply longed for Jacob’s love.  What a picture of our own lives… often thinking the grass is always greener on the other side.

I once heard a pastor say, “If the grass is greener on the other side, maybe that’s God telling you to WATER YOUR GRASS!” The important thing is that we keep our eyes on Jesus and trust his plan for our lives individually is way more beautiful than we could imagine. We don’t have to look to the people around us to gauge our worth or value or meaning in life, we look to Jesus. 

Stacey Thacker puts it this way:

“When we see God as big, we lose the desire to merely look at the horizontal.  It isn’t that we completely miss all the thing other amazing [people] seem to be doing. But we aren’t threatened by them, because we are more aware of the work God is doing in us.” 

It is so easy to try to compare my life to the people around me.  It’s easy to long for things I see in their lives and get frustrated when things don’t happen as I hope.  It’s easy to try to take things into my own hands like Rachel did in giving her servant to Jacob to have a baby for her.  It’s easy to do those things.

But… we’re still left longing.  Comparing myself to others just brings bitterness and resentment.  Focusing on what I don’t have makes me miss the blessings overflowing my life.  Taking things into my own hands doesn’t fix the things that only God has control of and typically makes a bigger mess in the process.

So how about instead of comparing our lives to each other, let’s take time to encourage and uplift each other….to call out the beautiful things God’s doing in other people’s lives… to celebrate and give thanks for the awesome fact that our stories are different… and that’s a good thing.  Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and help others to do the same.  Let’s give up the comparison game and start watering our own grass!

31 Days of Imperfection

31 Days of Imperfection – Day 31!!!

I always am frustrated trying to wrap up something like this.  For 31 days (with a few grace-days) I’ve posted about imperfection.  A month ago I walked into this challenge hoping, praying, desiring that in the process I’d become (at least a little more) “okay with imperfect”.  In everything from sharing Bible passages God brought to my attention to flat out admitting some of my imperfections, it’s been quite the journey.  As I said, I’m not the best at wrapping these things up, so I guess I’ll just do so tonight by recalling some of the things I’ve learned (whether I shared them on the blog or not).  Thanks for joining me on the journey!

So there you have it, just a little summary of a few of the many things I’ve learned over the course of this month.  What lesson did you most need to be reminded of as we conclude this series?

31 Days of Imperfection, First Trinity, Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

Ministry is Messy! {31 Days of Imperfection – Day 30}

While my blog series focusing on “being okay with imperfect” started 30 days ago, God’s been teaching me this lesson for quite a while longer. One of the ways I’ve seen myself being forced to be okay with imperfect is in realizing that ministry is MESSY! As you’ve probably figured out in the last 30 days, I prefer perfection. I prefer things to be organized and always in their place. I’ve come to realize that just can’t happen in effective ministry.

Take First Trinity’s Young Adult Ministry for example.  As I packed up my car and moved halfway across the country to begin my internship, First Trinity’s “College Ministry” consisted solely of writing notes to college students a few times throughout the year. I am extremely thankful for this ministry and it continues to be a blessing to students still today. However, that didn’t give much direction for the overall ministry that made up 45% of my job description.

Without many young adult ministry models to follow, it’s been a messy process. Aside from simply getting to know people and building relationships with them, “trial and error” has been our most frequently used method.  However, I’ve seen God do some AMAZING things in the midst of the mess.  GOD IS AT WORK! LIVES ARE BEING CHANGED!

Whether it’s starting a new ministry or just going through the everyday tasks as a DCE, I’ve come to realize that I can’t really make anything happen that’s worth anything if I’m not willing to live with a little mess for a while. Often this “better way” is very intimidating. Taking the effort to make programs and ministries that are truly valuable can be very daunting. It’s kind of like baking bread, which can often be an intimidating task. I can have this great idea to bake my own bread instead of just buying a cheap $.99 loaf from the store. However, the process can just seem overwhelming; the hardest part is just getting started. Even if you know it’d be worth it in the end, and each step in itself is not difficult, you still have to actually DO it.

There is a huge part of me that likes to dream big dreams, but holds back because of the mess it may take to get there. I have to be willing to take that first step and “get out all the ingredients”… I’ve gotta just get started.  Thankfully, as we turn to God, he is always faithful to give us the “ingredients” we need. Instead of being scared of the whole process and worrying about getting it perfect, we can simply just keep turning to him for the next step, and the next step, and the next step, of the recipe trusting that even if it looks a little messy right now (like when you have to dump flour all over the counter to knead the bread dough), it will be worth our time and effort in the long run.

Thanks be to God that our Savior Jesus was willing to show up, right in the middle of our mess as a man and walk with us on this earth… Dying, rising, forgiving, loving. And he still enters in, day after day, right in the middle of our mess! And that’s why we have to be okay with messy sometimes, because that’s often where God shows up in the biggest ways… in ministry, and just in life!

31 Days of Imperfection

When… {31 Days of Imperfection – Day 29

When you forget your daily blog post… for the second day in a row…

When your attempt to catch up on sleep by going to bed early gets interrupted by your own thoughts…

When you struggle… with THAT… AGAIN…

When your alarm goes off and you just roll back over creating a hurried morning without much time to acknowledge Jesus…

When you walk into the kitchen and are greeted by the dishes you should have done yesterday…

When you say something you regret…

When you forget to respond to someone’s e-mail…

When you fall into that sin again…

When you introduce YOURSELF incorrectly…

When you’re serving communion and drop the lid from the wine pitcher and it clanks loudly up against the chalice…

When you drop a cup at lunch and have to use the time you were hoping to spend taking a nap cleaning up glass shards from your dining room floor…

When you just find yourselves overwhelmed by the faults, failures, and frustrations that often fill our days …


… you can be thankful that we have a God who knows we’re not perfect and somehow, can miraculously pick up even the tiniest “glass shards” we make out of our lives and piece them back into a beautiful creation.

Thank you Jesus, for grace. 🙂

31 Days of Imperfection

And He Loves Me Anyway… {31 Days of Imperfection – Day 27}

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again:


Somehow ordinary living rooms become sacred as we open our hearts and open God’s Word.

At one point last night, our conversation drifted slightly off topic (which is where the most sacred moments are often found) and what happened there reminded me of this blog series… about our imperfect selves and God’s perfect love.  I’m not sure where the conversation started, but we found ourselves reflecting on this truth:


While that in itself was too big for us to begin to comprehend, it got even crazier with the next comment:

… and he STILL loves us!?!?

Our minds were boggled and the only logical response was…




I’m not sure if anyone else sensed the beauty of that moment, but it seemed as if we were all lost in our own thoughts of the many reasons God could have to NOT love us.  Each of us carries things with us that perhaps not even a single other soul knows.  Most of the time, these secrets are secrets not because they’re exciting, wonderful things but rather we hide them in shame… they’re THAT bad.  I found myself baffled that God knows even THOSE things and loves us anyway.

And slowly, but surely our “WHY!?” of questioning and doubt becomes a “WOW!” filled with overwhelming gratitude, awe, and wonder.


Jesus, help me never forget just how big Your love for me is! Amen!

31 Days of Imperfection

Giving Up on Perfect {31 Days of Imperfection -Day 26}

Repost from December 16, 2011

Ever have those days when a message gets repeated over and over and over in various contexts? …one of those days where you start to think that maybe God might be trying to tell you something?

Today is one of those days for me. The “something” isn’t anything grand or revolutionary. It’s nothing new… God’s told me these things before and often with a lot more power. As I saw this theme pop up today, it wasn’t life changing; it didn’t shatter my reality or bring about some great insight. It actually kind of makes me think of the story where God tells Elijah that he’s going to show up. There was some great wind, but God wasn’t in the wind. There was an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake. There was a fire, but God wasn’t in the fire. God simply came in a “gentle whisper.” Today, God’s Presense (as we’ve been talking about all Advent here at FT) didn’t come in any big way today… but rather in a couple gentle whispers. I guess the easiest way to say it is that God simply wanted to remind me …to be me.

It started this morning as I wandered through the blogosphere. On one of the blogs I read regularly, someone had posted a comment and the title of their blog caught my attention: Giving Up on Perfect. As I opened the page I read this quote in her header:

“The thing that is really hard, and is really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” – Anna Quindlen

“… the work of becoming yourself.” I don’t know, but for some reason I feel like it shouldn’t be “work” to be yourself. Shouldn’t that be natural? Shouldn’t that be effortless? But the more I think about this as I’m writing, the more I realize it really is hard work. I think about the youth and young adults I work with each and everyday (including myself!!!) and I realize that it is hard word to become the person God has uniquely designed you to be. Parents, teachers, friends, movies, television shows, commercials, and yes…even church all lay out ideas of who the best you is. Even in the midst of good intentions and maybe even accurate insight into who you are, mixed messages make “becoming me” hard work. Big life decisions make “becoming me” hard work. Figuring out what you really want in life is hard work.

This afternoon while looking for some resources at work, I stumbled upon another blog: Average Youth Ministry. The subtitle of the blog was what drew me back to the reminder to “be yourself” from the morning… the second “gentle whisper”:

“Average Youth Ministry: Settling into who God made you to be”.

I’m not sure what “the work of becoming [me]” nor “settling into who God made [me] to be” actually looks like, but I know that’s right where I am right now… right smack dab in the midst of the “working” and the “settling”. As the quote above says, it may be a hard place to be at times, but it is also a really amazing place… a place of “average”… a place of giving up on perfect… a place I’m learning to love.

“But by the grace of God, I am what I am.” 1 Corinthians 15:10

31 Days of Imperfection

Worship in Spirit and Truth {31 Days of Imperfection – Day 25}

As I expected, once I finally got into my devotion/Bible study yesterday, I found myself amazed and in awe.  One of the things God brought to life in my time with him centers around a passage in John 4.

This story is of a Samaritan woman Jesus meets at a well.  As the story goes on we find out that she’s had 5 husbands in the past and is now living with someone who is not her husband. She was likely headed to the well at the middle of the day to avoid the shame and the whispers from other women who went at cooler times of the day.  After asking her for some water, Jesus then offers her “living water”.  The conversation continues with him asking about her husband, her making the confession about her past, and then it launches into a discussion about worship and comes to head at a point where she confesses that she knows the Messiah is coming and Jesus simply says, “I who speak to you am he.” .

While there is SO much packed into this passage worth talking about, what caught me yesterday, especially in connection with yesterday’s post, was the discussion Jesus and the woman had about worship.  In verse 23 says:

“…the true worshipers will worship in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

While, in my experience at First Trinity, people are somewhat open about the fact that not one of us is perfect and we all have junk that we carry through life, the sad reality is that the church as a whole throughout our country is one of the last places people feel as if they can be real.  Many Christians feel as if they have to have it together to come to church; they have to already know how to study the Bible in order to come to Bible Study; they have to bring only their best to God.  What smacked me in the face from this scripture is that the kind of worshipers God seeks are those who simply come into his presence (Spirit) and tell him where they’re at (truth).  He just simply wants us to be real.

In the situation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus’ questions led her into the truth.  After he asked about her husband and she replied that she had no husband.  He simply said,

” You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is quite true.”

He doesn’t flip out. He doesn’t cast her a way.  Instead, he says… “Yep, that’s true” and leads her deeper into the truth… deeper into worship, until she suddenly realizes she’s in the presence of Christ himself.  At that point, she doesn’t care WHAT anyone else might think of her, she can’t help but share about her experience with the Messiah himself.  She even used her brokenness as a platform for her worship as she ran back to town exclaiming, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.  Could this be the Christ?”  And they came. And they worshiped. And they believed.

As we worship, both individually and together with other Christians, God never wants us to feel as if we have to bring only our best; that we’ve got to clean ourselves up for worship or put away the tough things in life.  He wants all of us and he just simply wants us to come as we are.  When we’re angry, he just wants us to tell him we’re angry.  When we’re thankful, he wants us to express our thanks  When we’re grieving, he wants us to come even in our broken state. Hosea 6:6 says,

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

God is less concerned about whether we looked “polished” when we come to worship, and more concerned about whether our hearts are open or not.  Above all he just wants us to bring ourselves, as is, being honest about what’s truly going on in our lives.  Because when we come in spirit and truth, He can show up in the most powerful of ways and when he does, we won’t be able to keep quiet.


CHALLENGE: Spend some time in prayer today and simply tell God where you’re at. Don’t worry about having the right words or saying the right things or being “politically correct.” Just tell him about your day… tell him what was hard… tell him what made you smile… tell him what you’re struggling with. This is, at least a part of, what it means to be a true worshiper.

31 Days of Imperfection, Bekah's Heart, Books

Until God’s Love is Enough… {31 Days of Imperfection – Day 24}

Maybe you’ve been there-I know I have-getting ready to settle in and have some “date” time with Jesus but then, you just don’t.  You know it’s good for your relationship.  You actually enjoy it most the time you spend with him.  You even miraculously HAVE time to interact a little.
And yet…

You check your e-mail one more time.
You grab a snack or a drink.
You take a nap.
You run an errand.
You glance through Facebook.
(You write a blog post????)

(And these are only a few of the distractions I’ve personally used today.)

As I’ve mentioned before, these Sabbath moments each Monday have become a place to remember Whose I am and therefore who I am. I NEED some Jesus time… especially after this last week, a truly holy week, but also, especially in the life of a church worker, a busy week.  It’s a week filled with emotion and passion as we journey, and help others journey, through the most crucial days of our Savior’s life.  As I had the chance to share God’s resurrection power in my own life on Thursday, walk to the cross to lay down all our burdens on Friday, and celebrate together the joy of Easter this weekend…  I’m overjoyed, content, grateful, and at peace.

I’m also tired.

As I said before, I need some Jesus time.  And yet, for some reason, on these days when I need it most, I am the most distracted and distant.  I’m ever aware of my imperfect relationship with God… and unlike human relationships, the fault is all one-sided… me.

On about the fifth attempt of the day to settle in and let God remind me who I am, I read something that helped me understand a little more of why I had been struggling so much.

“Until God’s love is enough, nothing else will be.”

This quote from Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart hit me.  With each glance at Facebook, snack made, or errand run I was unconsciously seeking it to be enough.  I thought if I’d just get those things out of the way maybe THEN I’d be able to settle in and see God’s love for me.  But that way of thinking is seriously flawed and backwards of the way in which God’s kingdom works.  You would think after a week of so many reminders, after attending SIX Christ-centered, love-focused worship services, after living and breathing the life, death, and resurrection of Christ at home, at work, with my friends for the last week, after all that you think I would remember this simple truth:

God doesn’t love us because of what we do. He loves us. Period.

That great love came long before anything we do.

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

The things I need to do each day, the relationships in which I want to invest, the duties as a worker, a family member, a housekeeper, and more will still be there.  I can’t get those all done and THEN come to Jesus; I come to JESUS so that I can get all of those done.  I can’t get rid of all the distractions in life; I must come to Jesus and let him focus me in on what’s most important.  I can’t try to fill my life, I must give Jesus access to my heart and let him fill it.

“Our schedules are full, our minds are full, our stomachs are full, our refrigerators are full, our closets are full, our lives are full.  Yet, we find ourselves… empty…. Why? Because the wells of our hearts were created to be filled by God alone. The deepest thirst of our soul can only be quenched by Him.” (Renee Swope, A Confident Heart)

And so I shut down the computer, put away the snacks, turn off the phone, and open God’s Word.

Ready or not, He’s here waiting, and He is more than enough.

31 Days of Imperfection

My King Lives {31 Days of Imperfection – Day 23}

No matter what our perspective on our faults and failures (our imperfections), there’s a truth that trumps it all:
Jesus is alive and He’s coming back for us!

Enjoy this song today that I wrote a few years ago for Easter. (Tried to get the audio up of it earlier, but it’s not working.  Check back tomorrow and for now, check out the lyrics.)


My King Lives

It was only days ago
I was standing by the cross
My Lord and Savior hung their dead.
He cried, “It’s finished”
Words still echo in my ears
But those weren’t the last words that He said!

‘Cause my King lives, my Savior rose
For me, He rose to save
Our Lord reigns, our King lives
And He’s comin’ back someday
My King Lives, my Savior rose
Over death his victory
Our Lord reigns, our King lives
He’s alive today in me!

The devil tries to tell us:
“It’s all lies, I have the truth.”
Soon we’re scared, confused, and caught
He says, “There’s no resurrection,
Death’s the only way.”
But there’s one thing that he seems to have forgot!

My King lives, my Savior rose
For me, He rose to save
Our Lord reigns, our King lives
And He’s comin’ back someday
My King Lives, my Savior rose
Over death his victory
Our Lord reigns, our King lives
He’s alive today in me!

‘My King lives, my Savior rose
For me, He rose to save
Our Lord reigns, our King lives
And He’s comin’ back someday
My King Lives, my Savior rose
Over death his victory

Our Lord reigns!

He lives!

Jesus is alive!

Jesus is alive!