31 Days To My Best Yes:: Day 31 I Don’t Want To Be Wonder Woman

Did you hear that? It’s me squealing with a little bit of crying thrown in.

Why?

I did it! I wrote for 31 days straight during the month of October and posted every single day. I. Can’t. Believe. I. Did. It.

Thank you, Lord. You gave me the words to say. You gave me good health this month. You gave me peace in my heart about participating in this writing challenge. Thank you.

Thank you, Hubs and family. You have been so understanding. I’ve disappeared into the bedroom for hours and you’ve never complained. Thank you.

How do I wrap up my 31 Days To My Best Yes and hopefully encourage you?  Here are some final thoughts.

( pg. 38 in My Best Yes) “We have to put our hearts and our minds in places where wisdom gathers not scatters.”

I am so very convinced that my Bestest Yes is cultivating my relationship with Christ. With out that,  none of my other Best Yes choices really matter.

I truly believe that God does not want women to be overcommited, scattered and overwhelmed. I don’t feel the need to be Wonder Woman. I just want to do a few things wonderfully. Therefore, I can’t say yes to everything that crosses my path and I shouldn’t.

Young confident woman in red cape and mask

People have different levels of juggling capacity. For some it’s one or two activities at a time. For some it’s more. There are so many factors into what we can manage, our personalities, our family size, our health, our abilities, our work situations. That’s why my Best Yes cannot be me comparing myself to others.

So, was this 31 Day Challenge a Best Yes For Me? YES!! (But please don’t look at the piles of laundry in my garage right now!)

Not only did  I get terribly behind in my laundry or any other kind of household responsibility this month, we decided to tear up our floors and have laminate flooring put in. Rignt now I’m writing this post in my pjs on my bed with all of our dining room and kitchen furniture crammed into our smallish living room. Disaster or not, I write on!

I did reflect on the blessings of this challenge and what I’ve learned. Here goes:

1.) I did not think I had the discipline to write everyday. This has been so  good for me. I still can’t believe I did it.

2.) This challenge confirmed an answer to a  question I’ve  had deep down for some time. Should I be writing? Yes!! Is it a waste of my time? No!! This has reignited my love for writing. I have  a real joy when I write, when I string my words together and they make sense, paint a picture or evoke a feeling. That realization alone, made this challenge worth it.

3.) I now know that I am not meant to be a daily blogger. That is not a best yes in this season of my life. This is not a bad thing! I don’t have the time to give to that amount of writing. Saying yes to posting every day or giving too much time to my blog would be saying no other things and people in my life that need me. Also,  I cannot  keep up with my house or homeschooling and post daily.

4.) On the flip side, I do want to establish a regular posting schedule on the blog. I do want to write most days because that consistency was good for me. Finding the balance is what comes next.

5.) Finally, the mission of my blog is becoming clearer to me. I would call it a mission statement in progress. I do know that I want to encourage women to find value in who they are – right now. Whether you are old or young, wise or just starting out. Whether you have kids or not, whether you are married or single. Know that you are important. Know that what you do and your contribution to this world and in the body of Christ is important.

And there you have it. I’ve written all the words!! Thanks to this challenge I have many more  words rattling up there in my brain. I hope to share them with you in the posts to come

You can read posts #1-#30 of My Best Yes series here.

 

 

31 Days to My Best Yes:: Day 30 There Is No Perfect Yes

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For the past couple of days, I have been writing about the courage to say, “No.”  There was the “Hard No” (read here) and the “Easy No” (read here). I’ve shared some helpful tools from Lysa Terkeurst’s book The Best Yes that have helped me immensely in my own Best Yes journey.

What if your Best Yes answer is…….Yes?

Yes answers can be just as scary as no answers at times. The fear of making a mistake often keeps me from making any decision at all.

I didn’t realize how much of a perfectionist I could be until the time The Hubs and I were shopping for socks. It was either before kids or we were out alone because there is no way I could have taken the time I took to make this decision if I had had kids with me.

I love patterned socks. I have literally 40 pair. I’ve counted them. We were in some specialty type store and there was a whole wall of patterned socks. My eyes lit up with delight and I could hear The Hubs sighing behind me. He knew we were going to be there for awhile.

After several, which I’m sure for my husband were painful, minutes I had narrowed down my options to a few. I can’t remember if I was getting one or two pair; but I had a handful to choose from and simply could not decide! “What if I took them home and regretted not buying the ones I had left behind?”

It’s kind of a silly example; but I do that in other areas of my life and on a much bigger scale.

What if? What if I follow all these decision making tools and ask for wisdom and I still make a mistake? Things still don’t pan out? They don’t like my ideas? I don’t pass the test? I don’t get chosen for the job? I fail???

I just love the truth that Lysa shares. Can I say once again? Read this book if you haven’t yet. You won’t regret it!

( pg. 83 in The Best Yes) “If I’m trusting myself, I will stare at all the possible ways I could fail. If I’m trusting God, I will stare at all the possible ways He’ll use this whether I fail or succeed.”

Whoa! Isn’t that freeing? Let’s not forget that God looks at our heart and our desire to please Him. I truly believe He honors this more than our decision making abilities.

Here are a few more encouraging reminders from the book. (pg. 80.) “The only way our faith will ever strengthen is for us to use it.” (pg. 80) “But sometimes God gives us two or more choices that would all please Him and be in His will. We get to choose.”

Friends, does that relieve you of some stress? I hope so. It did for me.

Sometimes your Best Yes is actually a “No”. But sometimes it’s a courageous “Yes!!” Go out there and follow that yes and see where it leads you.

Read 31 Days post here.

 

31 Days To My Best Yes:: Day 29 That Time I Said No And It Felt So Good!

Yesterday, I wrote about saying that hard “No”.  The idea that saying “No” to one thing was really me saying “Yes” to something else, something better, was a novel idea to me.  It was also very freeing.

I’ve had to make several yes and no decisions since then. Each time it’s gotten a little easier. It is still challenging for me; but I use a few tools to help.

Tool #1    Remember the 5 questions from yesterday? If not read them here.

Tool #2    I consider a few more areas of my life (pg. 121 in The Best Yes) before making decisions.

  • My Time: Is the schedule required to meet all the demands of this opportunity in line with The Time I have to invest?
  • My Ability: Am I equipped with the necessary skills to carry out the functions of this opportunity?
  • My Money: Can I afford the financial responsibility?
  • My Passion: Do the responsibilities of this opportunity evoke dread instead of fulfillment in my heart?
  • My Season: Is there something that must take a higher priority during this season of my life?

Tool #3   I’ve become more in tune with what my passion is (are) and what God is calling me to do. It helps when answering the questions in number 2.

I had committed to teach a class for my daughter’s home school  Co-op program. I was teaching about North American Explorers. I committed to the whole year. I used the Wednesday night before class to prep (plus some extra time throughout the week) while both the kids were at Awanas. The next morning The Hubs woke up just in time for me to leave Little H with him so I could teach.

For the most part our schedules worked out great. I really enjoyed the class and scratching that teaching itch I had from being out of the classroom for a few years. I’m a bit of a history nerd and I really enjoyed learning something new.

Yet, as I drew to the end of the year, I knew something had to change. Nothing was bad about the class or the time I was giving it. My plate was just getting too full.

The times I used for prepping and teaching were times I felt I should really be spending with Henry and my Husband. One of the only times during the week my husband and I had to be alone and spend some quality time together was always being spent with me getting ready for my class.  That would go under “The Season” category.

I helped lead a small monthly co-op for Lily and had started a preschool co-op with friends for Henry. With the time I was devoting to those co-ops, I just didn’t have the time anymore to devote to a whole other class. That would go under “The Time” category.

I fulfilled my year commitment and kindly said “No” to the next year. It doesn’t mean I’ll never use those teaching gifts for our co-op. That is just  not a best yes for me or my family right now.

I said, “No.” And it felt really good.

I love this thought that Lysa gives in her book about saying “no”.  Because for me, many times I fear disappointing people. That fear could have kept me from saying “no” to teaching and instead, giving a guilty “yes”.

If we are talking it out with God and He’s given us peace about our decisions, then we can “…… graciously push past awkward.” (pg.148) “Best Yes answers are strong and courageous. Strength and courage come from keeping God’s Word close.”

Wow!! How convicting and at the same time empowering!

(pg. 50)  “Christians are expected to do nice things. I am a Christian. Therefore I should say yes.”

But is your yes a stressed yes?  Is whatever “thing” you are doing being done void of any love or joy because you are so stressed out? Sweet friend, take the pressure off yourself.

As much as it is a challenge to you, it’s a challenge to me to be in God’s Word daily and to keep making those courageous Best Yes choices.

Catch up on my other 31 Days posts here.

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31 Days To My Best Yes:: Day 28 The Hard “NO”


SayingNoMeanBestYes

Can saying “No” actually be a Best Yes in your life? I think so. When we say “no” to one thing, we are really creating space to say “yes” to something else.

If I say “no” to heading up this committee or enrolling my kid in one more activity, I could be saying “yes” to more time with my family or a less stressed state of mind.

Sometimes an opportunity is offered to you and your answer needs to be “no”. There are times when saying that needed “no” can be clear cut and easy. Other times it is far from simple getting to that place.

I had a very hard decision to make not that long ago. I mulled over it and  analyzed  over analyzed it to death! It was good for me, though. God taught me a lot about making decisions and gave me some great tools to use.

I was asked to be a leader in a ministry at my church. Now, it was nothing huge like being worship leader or something like that. But it would require a big commitment from me. Every job in the church is important and needed. So, I did not take this request likely.

My initial, in my head response was, “I don’t want to do this.”  There are jobs in the church that each member like to do better than others. For example, the nursery is not my gig. I much prefer the older kids. Does that mean I shouldn’t help in the nursery if needed? No. It’s just not my preference.

Just because it’s unpleasant doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take on the challenge. (And I don’t think babies are unpleasant!)

This “job” was not something I would have sought out to help with. I didn’t really feel like I was equipped to do this job. We know pretty much what our strengths and weaknesses are.  Again, though, God does not always call us to do the things we think we are good at. Umm…. Moses! Perfect example, right?

All of these things raced through my head in about 5 seconds. At this point, I knew one thing for sure…….I could not base this decision solely on my feelings.

 

I had just (literally) finished reading Lysa’s book The Best Yes, my inspiration for this series. I used some thoughts in her book that  helped me immensely. Let me share:

(pg. 116 in My Best Yes) “Every  yes answer comes with a list of expectations. If I don’t know what those expectations are, I can’t possibly meet them. It’s crucial to identify the expectations before giving a yes answer. Then I must determine which of those expectations are realistic and which are unrealistic.”

Now, in my situation I didn’t take the word unrealistic to mean I was being asked to do something outlandish or over the top. Though, some requests can be outlandish. I took it to mean, “Was it unrealistic for me, Jen, to accomplish in this time during my life?” I wasn’t being asked to join a professional soccer team. That would be unrealistic, dare I say, outlandish.

So, I asked myself some questions. These are great decision making tools. But you must be honest when answering them. (pg. 119)

1.) It feels thrilling to say yes to this now. But how will this yes feel two weeks, two months, and six months from now?

2.) Do any of the expectations that come from this yes feel forced or frantic?

3.) Could any part of this yes be tied to people pleasing and allowing that desire to skew my judgement of what’s realistic and unrealistic?

4.) Which wise (older, grounded in God’s Word, more experienced, and more mature) people in my life think this is a good idea?

5.) Are there any facts I try to avoid or  hide when discussing this with my wise advisors?

I decided to do three things.

1.) I didn’t make a rash decision based on my feeling, which in this case was fear.

2.) I prayed about it and asked God for wisdom.

3.) I then honestly answered those 5 questions above.

I did end up saying No. The big factor was not my feeling of inadequacy, though that was a factor. It was the factor of the time commitment I knew would be expected. It wasn’t because I wasn’t willing to give the time. I just didn’t have it to give.

It was hard for me to say “no”. I also realized how much the fear of disappointing others plays into my decision making. This why I agonized over the decision. When I finally made my decision, though, I did have a peace about it.

Lysa also writes in The Best Yes, “Not every assignment is my assignment.”

Months later that ministry is being led by a person that I think fits the bill perfectly. That person just wasn’t me.

This by no means gives me the freedom to run  around saying “no” to everything that feels uncomfortable or unpleasant for me to do. These tools above have been very helpful for me to make my Best Yes choices and I hope they can helpful to you.

31 Days To My Best Yes:: Day 27 Why Book Club Rocks!

Once a month, I do something just for me and it’s amazing. It’s the highlight of my month. It’s my Me Time. It’s my girl’s night out. It’s Book Club.

Yup, I read just for the fun of it and then talk about it for hours with other women. Ok, we don’t talk about the book the whole time. Not even half the time. We do talk about it, though.

Three years ago, my friend Rachael and I, decided to start this book club. It was something I’ve always wanted to do, being a book nerd and all. I just never thought anyone else would be interested.

We put it out there and I sent an email to friends and people I thought might be into it. We started with 5 girls and it was glorious. It was  how I imagined book club to be. We had dinner and we discussed , what is to this day, one of my favorite books, Cutting For Stone. Then we talked and got to know each other. We all had young kids and very much needed this time with other women. For me (and I think I can speak for them), I wanted to talk intelligently about a book that wasn’t about being a mom,  a wife or a hungry little caterpillar .

I wanted to talk about literature and plots and characters I loved (and sometimes loathed). Remember Serena, girls? I don’t think any of us liked her.  Not only did I get that, I got the opportunity to share in these other women’s lives. We have such different personalities in our group, that is now 10 ladies, and we just fit together. They are my little book club family and I just love them. When the group started, we weren’t all mamas. That has recently changed. So, we do have babies join us and we don’t mind one single bit.

The only downside is that my co-founder, Rachael, moved away with her sweet family not long after book club started. That has always made me a little sad. I’m so glad she wanted to start this adventure with me, though. Thank you, Rachael.

I may wait until three days before book club to read my book and therefore, ignore my family for a day or two each month. I may even, every once in awhile, skip ahead to see how the story ends. (The girls give me a hard time for that one.) But unless someone is dying or has lost a limb, nothing keeps me from book club. My family know this and make it work for me.

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Of course the night I take a picture, half the girls were out of town. This is just half of us.

I’m so thankful for this unexpected blessing in my life, three years running. I’ve read wonderful books, some I would have never picked up on my own. I’ve laughed so hard. We have at least one inside joke each time we meet. (Anyone made their magnet out of their children’s baby teeth yet?) Mostly, I’ve been blessed with some pretty amazing friends.

If you’ve ever wanted to start your own book club, I have a “How To Start Your Very Own Book Club” post in the works. I’ll be posting that in the near future.

Check all my other 31 Days posts here.

31 Days To My Best Yes:: Day 26 Our Family’s Best Yes

OurFamily'sBestYes

The Comparison Game. It’s a game you really can’t win; but I’ve been guilty of playing it a time or two. This is  kind of a personal post; but I hope it encourages you to make decisions that are best for you and your family.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game. It’s very tempting to look at what others are doing and what other’s have and then not be satisfied with the situation God has for your life. I’ve been there.

Here’s the thing: Every family, every situation is so different. God has called each of us in such unique and different ways that it’s just plain silly to compare. In fact, it can lead to great discontent and it can lead to missing all the good that is right in front of us.

So, I’m sharing just a handful of the Best Yesses for our family in hopes that you’ll see how different (and at the same time how alike ) our lives can be. But I want you to see how it’s like comparing apples to oranges. You can’t and you shouldn’t.

Our Family’s Best Yes::

#1  We have one car.  I never ever thought in a bazillion years that we could live with one car. In fact I can be quoted saying, “We could never live without two cars.” Is it ideal? Nope. Do I love not being able to do some things because I have no car to get there? Umm…. no.  Is it inconvenient? At times, yes.

Here is the positive. It has made me stay home more, which was something I needed to do. (You’ll see why in #2.) It is saving us money that is being used for other more important things right now. It has made me redefine the word “need” in my life. These are all good things. Having one car may not work for your family; but it works for ours.

 

#2  We home school. If you want to read about our very unexpected journey into homeschooling you can read about it here. (This is on my previous blog, Sock Monkey Tales.) I won’t lie. There have been times when I thought my life would be so much easier if I sent my kids to school each day.  As a former elementary teacher, I think school is a fabulous place. For us, right now, homeschooling is best. It’s best for reasons that outweigh the doubts I have on those hard days. Many of you may  have no desire whatsoever to home school. It would not be a good fit for your family; but it is for ours.

#3 I embrace our not normal schedule. With the shift The Hubs currently has, we have a completely backwards schedule. Think of a normal Monday through Friday, 8-5 schedule and he has the exact opposite! I’ve learned to embrace it. Our weekend is usually a Tuesday or Wednesday. We can’t change it; so we’ve chosen to make it work for us. In this case, we did not choose the schedule; but we chose the attitude.

#4  I don’t commit to many weekly things or much at all.  Unless our family can do it together, I try not to say yes to  too many things that require me to be available every single week. Making this decision affects our whole family. I’ve been in that place where I have committed to too much and it takes my time away from my most important job, Holding Down The Fort. (As my dad we would say.) For example, I teach Sunday School once a month. Right now, monthly is my commitment level! Even with all that effort we still seem to be pretty busy!

#5  I try to serve others out of my own home. Trying to limit my outside commitments and not having a second car, forces me to be a little creative. So, I try to be available by having others over to my house. I am not the Hostess with the Mostess by any means and I’m not entertaining every weekend. For example I will host co-op activities at my house or I’ll try to have friends over for coffee.

Some of the things I’ve listed are challenging and some are just different. But these choices we’ve made are what best suits our family and our unique situation. I cannot compare my normal to someone else’s normal. It won’t measure up. And if I feel that my life is lacking because it doesn’t measure up, I will always be discontent. Bitterness will seep in and take root. That is definitely not a Best Yes for me!

What are your Best Yes choices ?

31 Days To My Best Yes:: Day 25 Man’s Great End

I’ve been thinking about these beautiful words from The Valley of Vision over the past week. It’s titled Man’s Great End. Here’s just a little of the passage:

Man's Great End

Lord of all being,                                                                                                                                                            

There is one thing that deserves my greatest care, that calls forth my ardent desires,

That is, that I may answer the great end for which I am made– to glorify thee who hast given me being, and to do all the good I can for my fellow man; Verily, life is not worth having if it be not improved for this noble purpose. 

Yet, Lord, how little is this the thought of mankind! Most men seem to live for themselves, without much or any regard for thy glory, or for the good of others;

They earnestly desire and eagerly pursue the riches, honours, pleasures of this life, as if they supposed that wealth, greatness, merriment, could make their immortal souls happy;

But, alas, what false delusive dreams are these! (pg. 13 Valley of Vision)

Our world is so caught up in the temporal and what makes us feel good. I fall into the trap, too. I fix my eyes on the things that don’t have eternal value.

The words above are so beautiful in their language and in the simplicity of the message. It’s not complicated. Our purpose, and a noble one at that, is to glorify God and  do good for others. 

I’ve been reading this over and over because I want it to sink in, set in my heart and take root. What if those two requirements were the standard by which I measure all the things in my life? How I see others. How I interact with friends and coworkers. How I serve my family. How I love my husband. How I spend my time. What I fill my mind with.

What if?

Man’s Great End is not his net worth. It’s not how many friends he has. It’s not how well traveled he is. It’s not how he has the best of everything. It’s not how important he is seen in the eyes of his peers. It’s how others see Christ through Him.

This is the truth that is smacking me right between the eyes. My Great End has nothing to do with me! When I let that simple, yet profound realization settle within me, I have no choice but to admit how I fall so desperately short. Am I living my life truly as God has called me to live it?

I won’t be discouraged!  Instead I am encouraged because His Word says in Philippians 2:13, It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Lord, with your strength, may I live a life characterized by those two actions, glorifying God and doing good for others.

Want to catch up with my other 31 Days posts? Click here:)