Confessions of a Quitter and Giving It 51%

Confessions of a Quitter and Giving It 51%

schedule

An early morning a few months ago I found myself standing in front of my kitchen sink that was once again full of dirty dishes. I was talking to my sister on the phone just staring at the task in front of me.

(I’m not sure who breaks into my house every single night just to dirty every single one of my dishes—leaving me to clean them in the morning—but if I ever catch the dirtying culprit, I’m popping him right in the nose. And I have raging pregnancy hormones right now, so it would be epic.)

My one year old hadn’t slept for oh, her entire life. Which meant this momma hadn’t slept for her entire life. Every night for the past 15 months had been broken up into sleepless segments. And then the entire previous week, 3am had become our I’m-Up-For-The-Day.

I wasn’t just sleepy, I was e x h a u s t e d—physically, emotionally and mentally depleted. I think most mommas know the place I’m talking about. And boy oh boy, I was in that place.

And on this particular morning as I stood in front of that sink of dirty dishes, I became totally overwhelmed. That sink was just the beginning of what I needed to get done. I don’t remember exactly what our topic of conversation was, but it wasn’t a serious one. However my response to whatever she said just burst out of me—and with a shaky voice attempting to hold back tears, I said,

“I don’t finish anything. I just quit…everything…all the time. I start and then…I quit.”

My vision began to blur with tears. And then I began to go down the list of all my failures and all of the projects I had started but for one reason or another, had quit.

Nothing like an early morning, lighthearted conversation with your sister, right?

My physical and mental exhaustion had stripped away my excuses (along with my good attitude and normally happy demeanor). And that rawness had suddenly and violently stirred up this regret and frustration about things I had quit.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve battled procrastination and quitting—always wishing to trade in those habits for ones of persevering and finishing. I’ve written about my journey of recovery before. This struggle isn’t a new thing for me.

Big life events…small every day tasks…friendships…ministries…workout programs. You name it, I’ve quit each of them at least once.

I would feel alone in it all. I’d watch other women who seemed to have it all together. Every detail in their lives seemed to be in place. Every project completed. Always on time. Always floating, not walking. And I would wonder why I couldn’t seem to get my act together since others seemed to do it so effortlessly.

And honestly, I still feel that way sometimes. Why the heck can’t I just figure this life thing out? Not just with keeping up with dishes (which would be a beautiful miracle), but with…projects…dreams…life.

Shortly after my dish-hating/I’m-such-a-quitter meltdown in my kitchen, I heard about a book called 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit and got an early copy of it. I love the author and the title practically screamed my name so I was eager to dive in. The book follows the life of Ruth from the Bible and pulls out truth and examples of how her steady faithfulness changed countless generations.

This book has been such an unexpected game changer for me. You know those times where you don’t need advice, or a coach or a teacher or a drill sergeant…you just need a friend? Yeah, this book has become my friend. The kind of friend that says, “Yep. I’ve been there. I’m still there. I’ve not figured it all out, but I’m on my way. Let me share with you.”

There have only been a handful of times in my life where I can look back and honestly say I feel pleased with how I stuck to something. I’m talking about the kind of somethings that took a lot of time, a lot of energy and…gulp…a lot of persistence (for like, more than a week).

But what if my definition of success simply meant staying consistent?

This book is jam-packed full of goodness. But 3 of the things that I walked away with after reading 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit:

1.) I am not alone in my struggles

2.) There is hope to change my quitter-habits and replace them with finisher-habits

3.) If I can’t give 100% that day, give 51%

That last one was a big aha moment for me. And looking back at the times I actually did finish well with large tasks, that’s sort of what I did. Even if I couldn’t hit some amazing goal that day, I did just one thing that kept me moving towards my main goal. And sure enough, enough days of doing one little thing led me to finishing that big thing.

In her book, Nicki writes about the power of 51%:

If success can be redefined as “not quitting,” it’s this idea that if we can just stay 1 percent above 50, we are heading in the right direction.

So, while you determine in your spirit you can’t handle Jillian Michaels’ bossy commands today, you choose the 51 percent route and go for a quiet walk. No, you didn’t give everything you had, but you gave it 51 percent, and so that’s a step in the right direction.

I’m really excited about the tools I learned from 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit. Particularly learning how to identify why I quit and then figuring out how to reform habits that have become obstacles. (I highly recommend snagging a copy if you too struggle with finishing things. There are too many gems in it to talk about in a short post, but it really is worth the read.)

Some days, I just don’t have the energy or time I wish I could fully devote. But instead of an all or nothing mindset on those days, I’m excited now view consistency as success. Eventually all that movement forward, despite the speed, will lead me to that finish. And I’m already seeing the benefits of those newly formed habits! How awesome!

So to all my fellow recovering procrastinators and quitters, we can do it! One habit, one step, one word, one consistent forward movement at a time.

Click here to buy a copy of 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit, by Nicki Koziarz.

5 Habits cover

Forgive and Forget

forget

Sometimes our 2 year old likes to remind us that she is in fact, very much 2. That is accomplished with ear piercing shrieks as she runs and hides behind the curtains at bedtime. Or sometimes it’s through very stern, unwavering NOs. She does NOT need a jacket in subzero degree weather. She does NOT need a nap. And most assuredly, she does NOT need to eat dinner before dessert. 

After one of her statements got…umm…brain-rattling loud…she was warned that if she screamed again, she would get a time out. There was a pause and then “the look”. If you’ve raised or even babysat a toddler, you know the look. It says, “I know I’m not supposed to, so I’m going to because I’m 2.” Our house filled with “Noooooo! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I’m pretty sure I heard every window in our house shake and every dog in our neighborhood howl.

Needless to say, she was told to march to her time out spot.

She served her time well and was released on schedule due to good behavior. I was so proud of her. She said she was sorry. We told her we forgave her. There were kisses and hugs and I love yous. And off she skipped to go play again.

My husband smiled at me and said something that really got me thinking. “I love that she simply accepts our forgiveness then skips off in freedom. I can’t imagine if she kept thinking about a mistake or continually felt guilty or sad for something she’s done. My heart would break. As a dad, I would be like, ‘I forgave you. It’s over. It no longer needs to affect anything. I forgive and forget.’ I bet that’s how God feels towards us when we keep dwelling on past mistakes instead of accepting His forgiveness and moving on in freedom.”

No truer words have been spoken.

It only takes me a moment to mess up, but I can beat myself up about it for a long, long time. I have the endurance of a marathon runner when it comes to dwelling on the mistakes I’ve made. Even after I’ve asked for the Lord’s forgiveness, my flesh sometimes likes to remind me of my failures.

My thoughts overflow with all the “what ifs.” The “I should haves.” The “I could haves.”

But I’ve realized something.

The enemy loves when we stay in an emotional and mental state of regret because it keeps us focused on the past. And as a result, our present is eaten away and we are not a threat to him in the future.

If the enemy can keep us embarrassed, he can hinder us from growing bold.

If he can keep us ashamed, he can prevent us from knowing our worth.

If he can keep us regretful, he can keep us from experiencing freedom.

If the enemy can keep us distracted, he can keep us from being effective.

We can’t expect the ground around us to flourish with joy and power if we keep our feet planted in contrite soil.

Sometimes looking into the past can bring healing and enlightenment. It can free us from bondage. But sometimes, looking back just reinforces the chains of those bonds.

Jesus has been showing me that it’s not about my mistake, it’s about my heart and choice today. And when He says He has forgiven me, He has forgiven me. Period. That’s it. End of story. He will never remind me of my mistakes to bring me shame, embarrassment or guilt. He will forgive and forget.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11 -12

Do we believe that Jesus’ blood was enough? If we do, may we live like it.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Thank you, Jesus for the abundant life that You make available to us. May we live in your freedom. You are faithful & good. Your grace, your freedom, your forgiveness is sufficient for me. 

A Love Note To Who I Used To Be

sundress-336590_1280

To the girl I used to be,

I know you lay in bed at night and cry. You are surrounded by people, but feel so lonely. Your heart feels empty, yet it still aches. It’s constantly seeking love, but only finds counterfeit versions and temporary highs that make you feel loved in that short-lived moment.

But you are loved.

You long to be cherished, but you think the only way that will happen is if you keep pretending, keep acting like the girl you wish you could be. You don’t show them the real you, because you are terrified that it’s not enough, that you are not enough.

But you are enough.

The idea that someone would embrace your quirks, your imperfections, the real you, almost feels like a silly dream. But still, you dream. You work tirelessly to be beautiful, because you desperately desire for someone to think that you are beautiful.

But you are beautiful.

You will give in to fear and run away. You will not finish your college degree with everyone and I’m afraid that’s something you’ll regret for years. But it’s ok. Because of that, you will learn to work harder for what you want. You will learn to appreciate time, money and perseverance much more. You will have moments of feeling like you’re not as academically smart as everyone else, but you will soon realize the truth.

You are smart.

While many others take the direct route in life, you’ve always taken the scenic route. It may not be like you imagined, but please look around and enjoy the scenery. Don’t get caught up on little details.

You whisper to God through your tears, “Why are You holding on to me so tightly?”

But He will always hold you tightly.

Sweet girl, life is going to get hard. There will be a time where your world falls apart. But I promise, it will be ok. You will feel like a wanderer, like you have no home. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. One day you will look back and see that it was those first painful steps that set the direction in your wild adventure. With every step, even the ones you hesitate taking or the ones that make you stumble, your legs will grow stronger, your heart will become braver and your spirit will feel freer.

He will always hold you tightly.

You will marry your best friend. Don’t panic about not knowing how to cook, he loves cooking and you will not starve to death. You will find out that marriage is hard, but so worth it. Fight for it everyday. Focus on Jesus and your marriage will be clearer too. (And keep doing your impressions and telling your jokes. He secretly finds them hilarious.)

You will have babies. You will lose babies. You have never known heartache like you will during this time. But remember, He remains faithful. You will be able to more fiercely love others who are hurting because you too bear wounds. You will experience the heart of Jesus in ways you otherwise wouldn’t have. And it will change you. You will taste bitterness, but you will also taste the sweetest of blessings. Your babies will teach you about yourself, about God, and unconditional love.

He will always hold you tightly.

No matter what, love Jesus. He is your compass. You will see His fingerprints all over your life. So stay close to Him. And if you ever need a reminder, just listen. The constant rhythm of His heartbeat echoes His steadfast love for you.

You are loved. You are beautiful. You are enough. And He will always hold you tightly.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”  John 10:27-29

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Life or Death

2315310261_8db6825857_z
Words.

They can be one of the hardest things to tame; faster and more powerful than an angry, raging river. With one swift motion, that small muscle we call the tongue can cut a heart in half.

Isn’t it incredible how something you can’t see or hold can be shared so quickly? Whether or not we like it, words can transform us. They can empower us, motivate us, or they can tear us down and shatter our very core.

Like you, I have been on both the receiving & giving end of other’s words. I have received hurtful words. I have given hurtful words. I have received words that gave me life. And I hope I have spoken life giving words.

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37

Every careless word we speak, we will be held accountable for. Yikes.

We are responsible for every single word that we give. If you’re like me, it can be all too easy to justify the words I speak by rationalizing, “Well, they asked for my opinion, so I gave it to them” or “They wanted the truth, so I told them.”

Despite how hard I try to convince my husband, my opinions are not always actually right. Even if the words come easily to me, it doesn’t mean they should be released. And just because I speak with conviction it doesn’t guarantee that the source of those words is pure. My heart can be deceptive. If left to it’s own devices, my heart can be jealous, angry and selfish.

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

 

There are many times I have to make the conscious decision to bridle my tongue. The more I’ve practiced “thinking before speaking”, the more aware I’ve also become about where my thoughts and words are coming from. Are they coming from a source of jealousy? Is that why I feel the need to say something? Inviting God into that place of my heart and mind has been a game changer for me. He’s revealed how untamed emotions like jealousy, anger, bitterness or frustration can disguise themselves as something harmless. If I give in to their ugly persuasion, they will surely rise up inside of me and try to escape through my words where they can do insurmountable damage. It is easy to hold back? Not always. Is it important? Yes. It’s absolutely vital.

I’m not talking about behavior modification. I mean allowing God into the depths of our heart so that the source of our words will be pure and holy and loving. Words are simply the manifestation of what’s going on inside of us.

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 

“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” Proverbs 11:12

If our first reaction is to “blaaaaaaaaa”, then let’s go to the source – our hearts. Let’s ask the Lord to show us the parts of our heart that we’ve kept closed off to Him & that cause us to feel like those words should be said.

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”        Proverbs 12:18

Faithful & Just

It may only take me a moment to mess something up, but I’ll tell you what…I can beat myself up about it for a LONG time. I have the endurance of a marathon runner when it comes to remembering certain mistakes I’ve made. Even when I’ve genuinely repented for what I’ve done & I know I’ve been forgiven, my flesh likes to remind me & keep me in a state of regret & embarrassment. It keeps me focused on the past. And as a result, my present is eaten away.

Sometimes looking into the past can bring healing & enlightenment. It can free us from bondage. But looking back for reasons other than those, it’s usually not for the best.

Jesus has been showing me something incredible. It’s not about my mistake. It’s about my heart & choice NOW. And when He says He has forgiven me, He has forgiven me. Period. That’s it. End of story. He doesn’t bring up my mistakes to make me feel guilty or remind me of how inadequate I am. He doesn’t use it to show me how unworthy I am of His love. That isn’t the heart of my Savior.

Psalm 103:11 & 12, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

God has never expected me to be perfect & He doesn’t demand me to handle every situation perfectly without any mess ups or mistakes. He cares about my heart. When my heart is in line with His, THAT is what matters. So why do I sometimes feel like my past mistakes have a hold me? It’s the enemy. He knows that the forgiveness that Jesus brings is FAR MORE POWERFUL than any mess up or mistake I could ever make & he wants to keep us ashamed, regretful & distracted from the blessings of today.

Acts 3:19, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,”
  
If the enemy can keep us in that state of regret, we won’t live in the fulness & abundant life that God has provided for us. When we settle into that cycle of focusing on the mistake not the forgiveness, we’re really missing something. We’re missing the beautiful message of the price & sacrifice that Jesus made so that our sins could be forgiven. God sent His precious, perfect & innocent Son to die on the cross for our sins, yet we still dwell on the sins that have been forgiven? Do we believe that Jesus’ blood was enough? If so, do we live like it is?
 

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
 
What if we really grasped onto the truth that Jesus’ rejoices when we repent & doesn’t hold our mess-ups against us? How would our lives change?

Thank you, Jesus for the abundant life that You’ve made available to us! May we live in it, dwell on it & share it with others! You are faithful & good. I’ve made mistakes & will continue to. But with all my heart, I want to live a righteous, holy life & focus on the beauty of Your forgiveness, not my failures! In every circumstance, in every day, Your grace is sufficient for me.

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Be blessed my friend! I declare my God as faithful!

Those Two Words

Hello friend.

I’d like to think that I have a fairly decent vocabulary. However, I seem to have trouble with 2 words sometimes. They aren’t long words. There’s no tricky accent on them, nor do they require tongue twisting enunciation. These words are…

I’m sssssssss.

Let me try that again…

I’m soooooorrrrr.

Ok, this is more difficult than I expected. Here’s goes.

I’m sorrryyyyy.

Whew! There. I feel better.

It’s not necessarily that those words are impossible to say for me; it’s the jab to my pride & admitting I was wrong that make them a little sticky. When I miss someone’s phone call, those words flow beautifully off my lips. “Oh I’m sorry I missed your call. I’ve been talking to God in my prayer closet for the past 4 hours.” Ok, it doesn’t usually go that way. It’s more like, “I’m sorry I missed your call. I was blowdrying my hair and a large chunk of it got sucked into the backside of the dryer. And while I was trying to pull it out, I panicked and turned to unplug the thing and stubbed my toe. Smoke from my burned hair had filled the room so I couldn’t see anything and ran into the door, knocking me unconscious for the past 32 minutes. The good news is, I saved the dryer. The bad news is, I now have bangs.”

Simply apologizing for something is sometimes difficult, but saying I’m sorry without putting a “but”, “that” or “if” after it…can be even harder! “I’m sorry that you took it the wrong way.” “I’m sorry if you think I said that out of spite.” Or the classic, “I’m sorry for how I said it, but I’m not sorry for what I said.”

Yep. The I’m sorry without a but, that or if. What a challenge.

I have a friend who’s been through thick and thicker with me. We’ve been very close the last few years. Slowly but surely, little things this person would say & do would make me…well…angry. But did I tell them that? Was I honest to them? No, no, no. Don’t be silly. I just kept listening & listening & taking it in. I would take it personally & and let it build up inside of me. All the while, I was smiling and nodding. My friend had no idea that I had had it up to here with her bad attitude & empty talk. And how could she have known? I was smiling & nodding. I didn’t want to have to deal with conflict or confrontation. But a girl gets to her breaking point eventually. You know what I’m saying. You’ve been there. You take it & take it & then…SNAP! Your face gets flush, your heart start pounding & then bllllaaaaaaaaaa. Out come some not-so-pretty things. “Oh sure, just because I’ve been smiling & agreeing with you about everything you’ve been saying throughout the latter part of our friendship, then all of the sudden I explode all over you, you think I’M crazy. Fine. Be that way.”

I thought that everything was said and done; it had become something that couldn’t be reversed. There were so many things this girl had said & done to me; our friendship was over. But then, my loving God began a work in my heart. I didn’t come straight to the conclusion that I needed to ask forgiveness from this person. It was a journey & my heart began going through a transformation that I can only explain as a God-change. I was craving God’s word constantly. I truly felt my relationship with Jesus deepening into something very special & real. Knowing that I wanted my heart to be cleaned out and made pure, I began to ask God to show me things that I needed to do in order to make things right with people so that my heart, motives and actions could line up with God’s heart. And of course, don’t ya know it…He began to show me people who I needed to apologize to.

Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” 

I love how The Message puts Psalm 139:23 & 24. “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.” 

I knew swallowing my pride was going to be hard enough, but being genuine with my apology WITHOUT needing or requiring an apology from this person, was only going to happen with God’s strength. I knew I couldn’t do it without tapping into God’s mercy and grace. And when we do that, watch out. I was overwhelmed with love for this person. I wrote out a very long apology & sent it off. I didn’t blame, accuse or point out my friend’s wrongdoings. Even if it had ended there, I experienced this incredible sense of joy in my heart from being obedient to God’s command in the situation. I don’t care how hard the situation is, when we’re obedient to God’s leading, there will be joy in our souls.

Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

I can love them, pour grace out on them, give mercy to them through Him.

So within a couple of days, this friend emailed back, expressing her heart & how she was sorry too & how we should just start fresh. What an additional blessing that she was so receptive! That’s not always the case though. But that’s ok. We are only required to be responsible for our own reactions & motives. If we are listening to God’s beautiful voice in our lives and being obedient to Him, we don’t have to worry about others’ responses or hearts. It’s not our place & isn’t our burden to carry. We can however, pray that their hearts & long for God. We are all different. We all have varying opinions, priorities & convictions. But as we all run after God & desire for hearts to be like His heart, we will come to this mutual ground of love, understanding & respect towards each other. And that is a beautiful thing.

1 Chronicles 29:27, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.”

My God is faithful.