“Don’t Try So Hard”

I try so hard to be perfect at everything all the time.  My expectations are unrealistic, and I am weary from trying so hard.

Today as I heard Amy Grant’s song “Don’t Try So Hard” God spoke to me.   Part of the chorus is, “God gives you grace and you can’t earn it.  Don’t think that you’re not worth it.”  These affirmations grant me hope and peace.  Repeatedly friends, mentors, and family have told me, “Don’t be so hard on yourself, slow down, take care of yourself, you don’t have to be perfect.”  I nod when they speak these messages to me, but then I just keep trying harder to be perfect.  I still want to prove that I am good enough.

What is good enough?  Whose standard am I even following?  Am I good enough when I earn a 4.0?  Am I not good enough when life gets in the way and my GPA is less?  Am I good enough when I preach an amazing sermon?  Am I not good enough when I make mistakes?  Can I ever be good enough?  Will I ever reach that good enough status?

Beginning today, I am going to take the first courageous jump off the hamster wheel of always trying to be good enough.  In the name of God my Creator, I declare that God created me and he knows that I will sin.  In the name of Jesus my Redeemer, I accept God’s grace that covers me.  In the name of the Holy Spirit my Comforter, I accept the challenge to be led by the Spirit to know who I am in Christ and how I am to live my life.

I am ready to live my life led by the Holy Spirit rather than trying to measure up to perfection.  Freedom in Christ is something that I have heard about a lot, especially from John Miller, but at the age of twenty-six I finally think some things are starting to click.

Know that I am praying that this devotional blog will encourage you and others.  We all try to measure up to perfection, we all struggle to accept God’s grace, and we all struggle to let go and let God.  Feel free to post in the comments how I and others can pray for you, or feel free to send me a personal message.  We need each other on this journey!

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God IS at Work!

I am still too tired to even really start to debrief from our Passport camp experience, but I do know that God worked mightily.  So many blessings, some that I perhaps will never realize, were bestowed upon us while we were away at camp.

We were able to fill a spot for camp that opened up at the last minute.  God was at work.  We found a mechanic to look at the air conditioner in the church van, and he took the time to fit us into his schedule.  God was at work.  The experienced children’s ministers from other churches encouraged me through out the week and listened to me to share about my experience.  God was at work.  The Passport staffers cared about the children (and chaperones), and all of them served with passion and excellence.  God was at work. 

The blessing of being away from social media and the Internet for over seventy-hours was a much needed respite for my soul.  I heard God more clearly as I enjoyed the beauty of the mountains all around us.  Smiles and laughter filed the week, and God was indeed at work.

For now, I am going to treasure some time to myself to recharge and reflect.  Soon I will post again about more of our Passport experiences and lessons that God taught me.  

Please post in the comments: How you see God at work in your life right now or how you have seen God at work in your life previously?

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I was organizing camp paperwork.

A Life Well Lived

Yesterday when I opened my school e-mail account, I noticed a message from Lynn Brinkley, Campbell Divinity School’s Director of Student Services.  Mostly her e-mails contain information about upcoming socials, share prayer requests, and remind us to turn in paperwork.  Yet last night the e-mail shared with the CUDS family that Miriam Dobbins had unexpectedly passed away.  I was stunned.

Miriam and I had  some CUDS classes together.  I know that she had a love for children and she took her classwork seriously.  Though we were not close, I would definitely still describe her life as one well lived.  She smiled, she asked great questions, and she treasured the opportunity to learn.  She was young at heart, and I never would have expected to read about her passing away.

Lots of my friends are posting Facebook statues about various struggles that are weighing upon their hearts these days.  Several people who are close to me have dealt with difficult news during the past week.  Grief is everywhere.

In the midst of everything, I am pondering: How would I describe a life well lived?  Of course eventually a blog will follow about these thoughts.  In the mean time, in the comments please answer this question: How would you describe a well lived life?

VBS Memories

At VBS I caught up with a preschooler who had walked away from his group in the fellowship hall, and I asked him, “Where are you supposed to be?”  And he responded, “At home.”  I walked him back to his group thankful for the honesty of children.

One night during the opening assembly a preschooler came right up to me and sat in my lap. I had never met this little boy before, but during the rest of VBS, I got to know him better.

While the children and leaders were at their rotations, I spent time with some of the parents.  We talked about vacations, work, children, and other various topics.  I look forward to continuing these connections in the upcoming weeks.

Following Anne Voskamp’s example of counting to a 1,000 gifts as taught me to enjoy the simple every day blessings that come from God.  Before I started this journey of counting, I often missed the extraordinary that was often disguised as just ordinary.  VBS was another chance for me to count up the extraordinary ordinary blessings and treasure making new memories.

Please pray for me this week as I go with the children from church to Passport camp.  I look forward to continuing to count up the extraordinary ordinary blessings!

Learning From All Generations

Tonight was the third of four nights of Vacation Bible School at the church where I work.  Children were scurrying around for 2 1/2 hours singing songs, creating crafts, watching Bible story dramas,  and playing games.

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I have learned from all off the different generations.  First, children are amazing reminders to adults about the joy that comes with new discoveries and making new friends.  

Youth are further discovering their giftedness.  During VBS these young people have stretched themselves to distract children who want their parents and pushed beyond their comfort zones to be leaders.

The adult volunteers have shown such go give spirits from before VBS even started.  Each smile, laughter, and happiness from children have made this experience memorable and valuable for us in the here and now and for eternity.

Tonight I sit at my home exhausted as well as in awe of how God is at work in the lives of children.  Praise be to God for the blessing of serving children and families!

Please leave a comment with your favorite VBS memory or summer memory from recent years or from when you were a child.  What is your favorite VBS or summer memory?

A Musical Afternoon

This afternoon I was one of five of Sheila Moose’s piano students who participated in a piano recital at First Baptist Church.  I had much fun doing something out of the ordinary.  

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My piano teacher Sheila with her husband Ed, who likes to tease me a lot!

Thankfully, Momma, Daddy, Paw-Paw Bob, and Alexis were able to come to Kernersville for this occasion.  We had a great time at the recital, and then Alexis cooked us a wonderful dinner.  I am thankful to have such a supportive family.  Adam was unable to attend due to work that had to be done in the lab today, but I know that we will enjoy watching the DVD of today’s recital together soon.

Today at church I heard music played by two guitarists, the praise band, an organist, and a pianist.  At the recital I heard music played by three elementary school students, another adult, and myself.  Yet the music that I cannot stop hearing is the song of joy in my heart.  Though my life is very busy, today was a chance for me to marvel in God’s goodness.  I got to enjoy a Sunday School class with Kindergartners, watch three young people participate in an interpretative movement routine, and I hugged my family.

Twenty years from now, I may or may not remember the mistakes that I made during my recital pieces, but I do know that I will still be cherishing the blessings of family and friends.