Letting Go of “Picture Perfect”

For the past several months, maybe longer, I’ve been thinking about perfection. I’ve been watching myself. I’ve attempted to observe my behavior – to get to know myself better. It’s kind-of a hard thing to do. It’s definitely a work in progress. It’s been over a year now, since I left my full-time job for the Stay-At-Home-Mom gig. And, a lot has changed. A lot HAD to change. Before, I’d (we’d) spent 8-9 hours a day outside of the house. It was easier, somehow, to keep things tidy, picked up, put away. Now, spending my days at home with tiny mess-makers makes it nearly impossible to keep up with normal order, much less anything that reassembles perfection. I mean, how many times can one person clean up a kitchen?! For real?! I realized, fairly quickly, that my natural inclination toward order, toward a controlled environment, wasn’t going to cut it. It took awhile before I could pinpoint the problem. But, I did.  It’s Perfectionism. The urge for perfection is the main thing that robs me of peace. I want everything to be clean, neat, pretty, organized and tidy. But, it isn’t. Life isn’t. Life is NOT clean, neat, pretty, organized or tidy. So, I’ve slowly come to the realization that if I want to live my life with peace and happiness amidst the chaos of motherhood, I have to let go of perfection. I have to Let. It. Go.

I’ve been trying to spend more time in God’s Word lately. It’s something that has been missing from my life for far too long. I knew that I had spiritually drifted. I just didn’t realize how far. Now, I’m trying to study, learn and grow. During a recent Bible study lesson, I read that, “without God we’re incomplete, not yet finished, not who we should be. And, we all feel this; we know we should be different than we are. We try to fix ourselves, but we can’t.” Now, I don’t know about y’all, but I just had to sit there and let those words sink in for a while. It was an Aha! moment. As in, Aha – we were actually meant to be perfect. We were created in God’s perfect likeness. But, Eve’s sin changed all of that. Afterwards, we were no longer perfect. We were no longer what we were meant to be. We were incomplete and imperfect. We will never be perfect. We will never be everything we want or need to be. And, we all feel that. All the time. That missing piece. Once I let this all sink, it just hit me. No wonder! No wonder I’m like this! Aha! But, after that Aha! moment came and even better realization. We don’t have to worry about it. We don’t have to worry about being perfect. That’s the most amazing part. Jesus took care of that for us. We don’t have to want a perfection that will never come. It’s kinda freeing isn’t it? It allows us to breathe. It allows us to rest in Him. Let’s do that. Let’s breathe and Let. It. Go.

So, what now? What does it look like if I stop longing for perfection? Truthfully, I don’t know yet. I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m still trying to stop. It’s not natural for me. Messy bothers me. Clutter gets under my skin. I can’t just turn that off so easily. I can, however, stop beating myself up about it. I don’t have to always like the way my house looks or the way that I look, BUT, I can stop feeling bad about it. Stop feeling like LESS because of it. Breathe out negativity and perfectionism. Breathe in rest, calm and peace (amidst chaos of course.) What if I just go ahead and say that no perfect people are welcome here – in my life, in my home, on this blog? Right? No perfect people. Of course, that means that you are all still welcome. That everyone is still welcome. Including myself. That means that we are off the hook a little bit. If I throw a party and it’s good, but not quite perfect, and a little off-balance, it’s okay. It’s even welcome. If you come to a girls night and your toenails aren’t painted and you have a little PB&J on your shirt, it’s okay. You are welcome here. I am welcome. If I spend the day with my kids at the pool and my hair is in a wet bun, it’s okay. I can still go out to dinner. I don’t have to be perfect to BE. There are toys that line my floor at any given point. It’s just the way my house looks right now. And, if I’m truthfully honest, it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I’m getting over it. I’m letting it go. I’m going to go ahead and choose to say that it looks happy. It looks loved. It looks like memories are being made here. Y’all! It looks happy! I’m gonna pick happy over perfect, aren’t you? I can fight it and feel terrible about it OR I can embrace it and feel happy that I have two little people filling my home with joy and toys and mess and laughter. I’m going to embrace it. The dishes are endless, the dishwasher always needs emptied, the laundry always needs folded. I’m never quite caught up. I don’t know why, but in my crazy-woman-mom-brain I’ve always felt like if I were more, if I were better, all of these things would be done. My house would be tidy. My kids would be happy. My nails would be painted. My hair would look flawless. I would always have make up on. I would shower. Every day. I wouldn’t have snot on my shoulder or food on my shirt. Gah! I’m letting it go. Because, really … it’s not making me happy. It’s stealing my happiness. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to realize this. What makes me happy is simply being with my babies. Holding them, watching them, smelling them. Even if that means forsaking the other things, the perfection, the overall look of having it all together. Let it go! It’s time to let go of that “picture perfect” image in our heads. We tried this with the “I’m Sorries”, didn’t we? That went really well, don’t y’all think? We let THAT go. Now we need to let “picture perfect” go. It’s holding all of us #GoodEnoughMomma’s back. It’s clouding the way we see life. It doesn’t lead to the happiness that we imagine it leading to. Embracing our imperfections, our gifts, God’s beautiful plan for our lives and building from there … that leads to happy.

 

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Amazing Grace + “My Two Cents” on Adrian Peterson

“OH, this grace on which I stand, It will hold me to the end, Never failing.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about grace lately. It’s been weighing on my mind and my heart and I can feel the Spirit tugging at me. I’m not exactly sure why, but I just can’t stop thinking about God’s lovely grace and how it spills over into our lives as parents.

Then, the whole Adrian Peterson story hit. It affected me. It saddened me. It really, really bothered me. I have a 4-year-old boy as well, so I couldn’t help but picture my N whenever I thought about Adrian Peterson’s son. I can’t imagine ever hurting him in that way. I can’t fathom it. Yet, it certainly isn’t the worst story of abuse that I’ve ever heard. I wish it were. What struck me most, upon reading more about this situation, was that Peterson seemed to truly believe that he was disciplining (rather than abusing) his son … disciplining him in the same way that he had been “disciplined” as a child. And, there you have it – the cycle of abuse continues. Their parents did it to them, and your parents did it to you, and now you’ll do it to your own children. The cycle is apparent. And, in Peterson’s case, it seemed to also be how he justified it. Really? This is how it’s justified? This is what makes it okay? I’m getting way off topic, but this is something that always strikes me as so ridiculous about our society as a whole — people are always saying things like, “Well, my parents did that to me and I turned out fine.” Or, “Our generation did that as kids and we all turned out fine.” Oh, really? Really? Are you fine? Did “we” turn out fine? As a society, as a whole, I think it’s painfully obvious that “we” aren’t fine. We live in a world that is broken and lost. This can’t be the justification to continue to do wrong by our children – to continue such ugly cycles. This doesn’t justify anything. So, to get back on topic, the question that I keep coming back to is – Where’s the line? Where is line between when we, as parents, discipline out of anger and when we discipline out of love and grace. Because isn’t “discipline” supposed to be about teaching and training our children about right vs. wrong? Now, I know our little ones can make us angry. They test us. They push us to our limits. But, it’s our responsibly not to snap, right? We are the adults. We have to stay in control. If we punish out of anger, then what are they learning? What are we teaching? Just imagine … just really stop, and imagine, what could happen if we (as a whole, as a society) discipline our children with love and grace instead. Our children would still learn about right vs. wrong, but they’d also learn about grace, mercy, compassion and love. Just imagine the possibility….

Grace, as a word, has many definitions. It means ‘mercy and pardon’. It means ‘the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God’. God’s grace is astounding and beautiful. I, for one, know that He shows me grace daily, as I make mistakes as a wife and a mother and a person. He shows me grace when I lose my patience, when I snap at my littles, when I say something I shouldn’t, when I am too quick to judge. His grace picks me up when I fall, dusts me off and sends me back out there to try again. God’s grace is an amazing source of strength in my life. I rely on it. I count on it. I want that for my children. I also want to BE that for them. I want them to feel God’s grace AND their mother’s grace AND their father’s grace. When they fall, when they fail, when they lose their patience, when their frustration gets the better of them, when they make a mistake … I want to give them grace. I don’t ever want to beat them down. I don’t want to ever push them away. I don’t want to ever cause them to shove shame down into the depths of their souls to resurface later in life. Instead, I want to cover them in grace. I want to show them mercy. I want to pick them up, help them dust off their spirits and send them back out into the world knowing what grace feels like. I’m not saying I won’t discipline my children. I’m certainly not saying that you shouldn’t discipline yours. Even the Bible is very specific about the necessity of discipline. It’s actually really important that we discipline our children. The goal being to teach them to do the right thing for the right reason. Right? What if we try to do that with as much grace as we can? What if we aim to show them compassion and mercy?

I want my babies to feel the strength of God in their souls. I want my babies to feel their parents’ strength and grace too. I will always, as long as I’m able, be a place of refuge for them. I know this world is hard. I know we can’t save our babies from ever feeling pain. But, with one tiny act of grace at a time, we can make a huge difference in their lives. We can feed their souls. We can try and try again to raise them with a gentle spirit. It won’t always be easy. Somedays we will yell. Somedays we will say something mean. But, God’s sweet mercy allows us to keep trying. Let’s be determined. Let’s let His grace and our’s shine on … in them and for them. Our little ones will see. They’ll see us trying. And one day, they’ll try too. They’ll try to raise their own children with compassion and grace. It’ll be a brand new beautiful grace-filled cycle!!

“OH, this grace on which I stand, It will hold me to the end, Never failing.”

Fear

Am I the only one?

Am I the only one that lets the fear creep in? It’s not something we talk about, of course. It’s un-discussable. I don’t even discuss it with my very best friends. We don’t talk about it because it would make us sound strange and morbid … and a little crazy . We talk about everything, but not this.  So, maybe that means I am strange and morbid and a little crazy every now and then. Not most days. Not even most-parts-of-some-days. It’s more like moments. A moment when I stop all of the million things that I’m always doing and let the fear creep in. It catches me in a vulnerable point, while I’m watching my babies and reflecting on how happy I am. Then, sometimes, it attacks. It’s like a bad seed planted in my head. It’s there somewhere whether I like it or not and it makes me crazy.

The thing is, I’m a happy person. I choose happiness and I don’t find it to be that hard. I was born cheerful. It’s a good thing. I’ve always felt blessed to have a natural cheerfulness. Right now, at this point, my life is SO FULL. I am just so stinkin happy. I have so much to be happy about. I’ve been blessed with a marriage that I thank God for every single day. I found my other half in this world. Together we are whole. It makes me happy and it TERRIFIES me. I’ve been blessed with not one, but two healthy babies. I carried them full term, having fairly uneventful pregnancies and labor with each. They are beautiful and sweet and everything I always dreamed they’d be. It terrifies me. If I stop and actually think about what that means, I’m left paralyzed. Caught in the realization of just how much I actually have to lose. Am I the only one? I don’t mean to do it. Yet, at times, I catch myself waiting for something bad to happen. Like, okay, I’ve been happy this long now, when is it all going to fall apart? What tragedy is going to find me? It’s gross, right? I’ve never actually said any of this out loud. But, I think about it. About how much I have to lose and what it would feel like. Then I cry. I cry for a loss that hasn’t even happened. Then, I snap out of it, push the fear away again (damn you, just leave me alone), and go back to doing what I do day-in and day-out.

I mentioned some of this to R one day. As casually as possible, I mentioned that I was afraid that maybe I was too happy and that it just couldn’t last, right? Could it? He didn’t say anything for a moment. Who would?! But, then he did. He said, “Baby. God wants you to be happy.” For some reason, I didn’t expect this response. I don’t know what I was expecting, but not something so simple, so sure. I let his words wash over me and seep into me. I let them comfort me and feed my soul. It’s been a few years since he spoke those words to me, but I still cling to them. When the fear tries to creep in, I take out those words, “God wants you to be happy” and I play them over and over in my head. God does want us to be happy. It doesn’t stop tragedy from happening. It doesn’t make all of the ugly go away. It doesn’t give me any more control. But, it makes me feel better. It does keep the fear away a little longer. It does provide comfort. It’s enough for most days. Still, I wonder if I’m the only one. If I’m not, then whoever you are, you should know … you aren’t the only one either.

 

Side Note: This article deserves a shout out to my dear, sweet friend Sara, who once-upon-a-time (when we lived closer to one another) would have listened and discussed such an un-discussable topic with me. She was never afraid to fess up about strange, morbid thoughts that no one else would admit too. She is a brave soul. I miss you, Sara!

Morning Glory

I’m not a morning person. I never have been. Yet, somehow, mornings have managed to creep their way into my heart. Without noticing that it was happening, morning snuck up on me and became my favorite part of the day. So unexpected, yet so refreshing….

Most mornings, A wakes first and R slips out of bed to go to her. He lets me sleep a little longer. He enjoys the first sweet coos and smiles of the morning with his itty-bitty one. She turns on the charm for him and they share some precious time together before he has to head off to work.

N wakes next and quietly sneaks in our room. He slips into bed next to me and wraps himself around me. He’s all sleepy sounds and smells and cowlicks in the morning. He’s full of ‘just-awake’ sweetness and he curls into me. We snuggle-buggle (our favorite word for cuddling) like that for a few minutes under the covers, until he’s more awake and starts whispering excitedly … then come the giggles and tickles.

After A’s bottle is gone, she and R make their way back up us, bringing our Harper (our golden girl) with them. She’ll bounce up with kisses and licks and good-morning wiggles. We share a few happy, family moments all in bed together before our day really starts. It’s untouched, unspoiled. The whole day is still in front of us and no matter what yesterday was like or what happened during the night, THIS day is still new. Fresh with possibility and hope. Before there are any meltdowns or time-outs or battles over food. Before I get tired or impatient. Before I lose my temper or feel like I’m failing miserably at this whole momma gig. Before N cries about something. Before A cries about something. Before the messes and spills happen. Before any wine is poured just to survive the ‘witching hour’ that we call dinner-time. Before evening comes, when we will all be tired, ready to wipe the slate clean again, ready to rest and renew. Before all of THAT, there is THIS … this beautiful morning.

This precious morning routine that we’ve established won’t last. Change is certain, especially with little ones. R and A won’t always greet the early morning together. N won’t always crawl into bed to snuggle with his momma. The mornings may slip away from me once again, no longer being my favorite. But, not today. Today is not that day. Today, I embrace the happiness that’s in my heart and push away the fear that tries to creep in. Today, I savor the peace that morning brings to our home and lives. God has given us a gift. A beautiful new morning. Take it. Savor it. Cherish it.

Happy morning, friends. Happy day!

 

I Will Always Be Your Home

Some days my heart is so full, the words just pour out. This one is for my little ones so that they may always know – they will always have me.

The sun settles over me with a blinding brilliancy,
As I watch you, my babies,
You are the most beautiful beings,
My heart radiates with a magical love,
Certainly there is no greater,
It is yours and always yours,
To carry with you on your travels,
I will always be your home,
Your refuge,
A safe place to hide,
A shelter from life’s storms,
I will always be your strength
On days when you need to fall,
I will be your ear
On days when you feel lost,
I will laugh with you forever,
For your giggles light my way,
I will hold you
Long after you are too big for my lap,
And, my heart will carry you
Long after the sands of time have faded away
You will never be alone,
My loves.
Your momma’s love will fly with the angels and surround you…
On and on and on…

Elle Bee Lovely – Our Journey

My journey won’t start here.
My journey  won’t end here.
But, a journey will happen here.

This is my journey … I’ve set out to create a life full of love and all things lovely.
I want a calm environment for my family. A home where we can work together, where we have a purpose, where we strive for common good.
I’m not exactly sure what all of this means, but I’ve set out to find out anyways.
Once I learned we were expecting our second child, we decided that I would become a stay-at-home mom. And so my journey to create the kind of home we wanted began. Elle Bee Lovely was born. At first, I intended for it to be a wedding blog. Then I thought maybe it would just be a blog about all things lovely –from weddings, to babies, to decorating, to anything in between. But, as I started, I realized that wasn’t where my heart was. My heart was with my little ones and the lovely things they were teaching me every single day. The ideas for my blog evolved to become something different. Something more. Something sprinkled with a spirituality. Something about parenting. Something about love. Something about our little ones. Something about our homes and the homes we are striving to create every single day. Join me as we march forward to create our own little refuge from the world. A place where we feel safe. A place where families feel loved and secure. A place where we can talk about the things that matter to us – whether it be reading, writing, crafting, decorating or just the way it feels to be a mother. To me it’s all about finding the lovely in all of the little things.