Apr 102013
 

A few years ago if you asked me to describe myself, I would probably include perfectionism as one of my characteristics.

Since I was a child, I have been trapped by the ideal of perfectionism.

In a way perfectionism is a personality trait. A way of characterizing oneself which is seen in a person’s striving for excellence and setting extremely high expectations. Along with the excessive need for perfection comes critical self perceptions.

My perfectionism was revealed in my school performance. I worked not just for good grades, but excellent grades. A perfect 🙂 (no pun intended!) example of this happened my junior year in high school. I sat before my Spanish teacher in tears over a B+.

It was not just my grades that were important. In order for me to be an outstanding student, I had to be involved. I was editor of the school newsletter, class treasure and a junior commissioner. Just to name a few. On top of all that, I danced 5 days a week. Ballet was my escape, however Ballet also required excellence.

As an adult, my perfectionism was reflected in my need to keep an orderly and clean home. To have well-behaved and well-dressed children. To be the text book homemaker and wife.

My continual striving to meet high standards often left me feeling inadequate. I was measuring my self-worth based on performance and how others perceived me. I was convinced that perfectionism was a real and tangible goal. If I only tried hard enough, I would someday achieve it.  These were my feelings up until just a couple years ago when God started to reveal the truth .

I realized perfectionism is a lie. It is unrealistic. It does not exist. I have experienced the dangerous cycle of perfectionism.

The cycle would always end in one of two ways:

1.  My hard work paid off and I was successful, therefore feeding the lie that one day I may be perfect.

2. The cycle ended in failure which was devastating. My negative self-talk would start and I would feel as though I was unworthy.

Although perfectionism is not inherently a bad personality trait it puts you in danger of depression, low-self worth and an over dependence on the high appraisal from others.

Do you struggle with perfectionism?

If so, how has it impacted your outlook on life?

 

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Apr 032013
 

Last week my oldest daughter (Grace) and I traveled by van for approximately 45 hours to San Luis, Mexico. We spent the next 6 days living in a tent, in the hot sun, on dusty sand. Fortunately, we are a camping family, so the tents weren’t too painful.  That is until people started spotting REALLY big spiders in the tents!

We were two of a team of 98 Christians traveling to San Luis.  Our mission was to build homes for three families, build a Costura (a place for sewing) for a church and help the hosting church provide a VBS (Vacation Bible School) for the neighborhood children.

Grace and I were on the VBS/compound team. We cleaned, we prepared meals, we learned songs in Spanish to sing with the children and we made crafts with the children.

How was I stretched?

My nerves increased as we approached the boarder of Mexico. I began to pray “Lord I am trusting you. I am taking my daughter to an unknown place. I am trusting you. Please pull through for me”. This was a first time  to Mexico and my first time on a mission trip. There are often scary stories of missionaries entering other countries. I had my daughter with me. I was stretched to not allow these fears to overcome me.

How was I challenged?

I was out of my comfort zone. For someone who is pretty social and enjoys meeting new people, I found myself very quiet the first couple of days. Although I know a little Spanish, I was too afraid to try. I smiled a lot and took it all in, but felt very unsure. Uneasy. But the children helped me. By watching the children and teenagers from our group interact with the others, it gave me courage to do the same.

How was I blessed?

I was blessed by witnessing the universal language of play. The small children played. They colored together. They built houses for Caterpillars.  They dug in the dirt. All without knowing what they were saying to each other!  I was blessed by watching the teenagers play volleyball for hours with the youth from the church.  They moved beyond the language barriers to make new friends.

I was moved to tears as I witnessed members of their church praise and worship the same God I love and adore. I was deeply blessed to see the passion in which the Pastor spoke.  How the church welcomed us and truly saw us as their hermonos and hermonas (brothers and sisters) in Christ.

What have I learned?

As we rolled into our town early Saturday evening I was so very grateful to be home! To see the familiar sites. The beautiful flowers and trees.

When I walked into my home it seemed new again. I was struck by how large it felt and how clean it felt.

There was laundry to fold. I folded it. As I did I noticed a smile on my face. I was delighted to be home, to be folding my clothes because I have clothes to fold. To prepare meals and provide for my family. Even grocery shopping yesterday brought me great joy!

The key is to remember. I take so much for granted. The big things like my children, my husband, my home, my country. But also little things, like being able to flash your toilet paper in the toilet or fresh cold water that comes from my refrigerator.

I don’t want to be a person that has experienced something and returns to the old habits. I want to be grateful each and every day.

I honestly do not know how to remember. I know I need the Lord to help me.

When was the last time you were not in your comfort zone?

What do you take for granted?

I encourage you to find a way to stretch and challenge yourself. Your eyes may be opened to what you take for granted.

 

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 202013
 

I shared in my post last week about how limiting my Facebook usage for Lent led to discovering all the distractions in my life.  God has also shown me the impact the distractions are having on my family and my ability to live the life I long for.

Just as I challenged you to spend a few minutes to write a list of your commitments (distractions) in life, I challenged myself as well.

This is where the hard work really begins.

Now that I am aware of the distractions in my life, what am I to do with this new insight?

I have a choice to make. I can continue trudging forward, holding tightly to my distractions, or I can be open to God’s leading and learn to loosen my grip.  I deeply desire to loosen my grip but to do so means letting go of things I hold dear.  It means letting go of control and trust.

Distractions are not always negative. Many of my distractions are worthwhile, fun and nurturing, which is why cutting them out of my life feels difficult.  However, the right choice is being obedient to what the Lord is calling me to do.  I know from past experience when I have listened and acted in obedience, I have been blessed by the outcome.  Even if it was tough to obey.

I have my list before me and I am prayerfully considering each distraction and asking myself the following questions:

1) How much time does it use?

2) Is this God’s will for this season of my life? Or is it my own?

3) Does it involve sharing Christ with others?

4) What is the impact it is having on my family? My state of mind?

5) If I let it go, what would that look like?

I am not suggesting that all commitments are distractions or that we should “flake” on all our responsibilities.  I am simply encouraging us to reflect on the commitments we have, listen to God’s leading and create space to be.

The wonderful gift of creating space in our lives is a deep inner sense of peace and calm.  This is something my soul longs for. Does yours?

 

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 132013
 

The Bible study I attend is walking through the study, “A Clearing Season“, by Sarah Parsons.  She encourages you to spend time in your personal wilderness to discover what might need changing for the season of Lent.  What you might let go or start to participate in.  Sarah does a wonderful job of reminding you that Lent is not a time for self-deprivation, but rather a time of reflection.

In honor of Lent I decided I would limit my Facebook time.  Knowing myself well, I knew I would cave in if I decided to quit completely, so I decided to limit my “attendance”, as I called it. Through this process, God opened my eyes!  Not only to how much time I was wasting on the computer when there was a pause in the day but to other distractions in my life.

I found this “extra” time I had was spent with my family or used to do something productive. This in itself is a great break through, however the Lord took me deeper and continues to do so.

Through this process all the distractions in my life have become clear. It is almost as if a big flashing sign has been turned on!

What do I mean by distractions?

My distractions consist of computer time, commitments outside the home, hobbies, groups I am a part of, things I want to do and things I need to do.

None of the above listed items are inherently bad.  It is that I have too many of them.  By having too many, I am distracting myself and robing myself of the opportunity to live the life I long for.

I have a dream of what I want my life to look like.  Most importantly, I have a dream of what I want my home environment to be for my girls.  As a perfectionist, I have learned to hold this dream loosely, however I do not want to lose my vision completely because of all my distractions.

My dream involves time. Time to be present. Time to be creative. Time to be home. Time to be together.

With too many distractions, time almost becomes extinct.

I encourage you to take 10 to 15 minutes to sit.

Allow your mind to wonder. Breath deeply. And take note of what distractions, worries, stresses come to mind.

Make a physical list.

What distractions have you unearthed?

 

 

 

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Mar 062013
 

Last week I shared about the trap of comparison and how I struggle with comparing myself to others, including all areas of my personal, home and family life.

Over the last week I have been prayerfully considering how to find my way out of this trap. I would like to think that I can avoid it all together, but that is not reality. I will most likely always battle the urge to compare, especially on a day when I feel particularly low.

However, there are things I can do to help me from falling straight into the comparison trap.

1) Be self aware and stop the thought trap of comparison: When I start to compare, I can shift my thoughts to something more productive and positive. This is possible. It is a choice.

2) Remember we are all on a different journey: This life is a journey. We are all at unique places on this journey. No two lives (journeys) are the same. Comparing apples to oranges is senseless.

3) Be kind to myself: It sounds cheesy, but God really did create me exactly how He wanted me to be. Part of this life is loving myself for who I am and who He made me to be.

4) Remember God’s plan: Just as in #3, God has a plan for me and where I am right here and now is exactly where He wants me to be. I need to embrace His plan and know that He knows better than I do (*sign of relief*).

5) Understand my triggers: this is two fold

  • Learn my triggers: What triggers my comparing thoughts? Feeling bad about myself? Depression? Insecurities? Learning to be aware of my triggers will help stop the comparison thought process.
  • Triggers for change: More than likely my triggers are associated with weak spots in my life. For example, if I start comparing myself to a thin person, it is because I don’t feel good about my own body. Instead of letting these feelings fester I can choose to make positive changes in this area of my life.

A friend of mine shared something with me she recently read. It painted such a wonderful picture for me I wanted to share it with you.

It is the idea that we are like snowflakes.  A snowflake is a delicate, beautiful creation, each special and different in it’s own way.  We are just as delicate, beautiful and special in our differences.

We are too unique to be compared. How beautiful!

 

 

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Feb 272013
 

Last Friday evening I enjoyed a much-needed break at a friend’s house.  It was a great night.  My friend was celebrating her 35th birthday by having a “Favorites” party.  SO fun!

The evening went smoothly and I laughed so much I did notice, however, I was observing all the ladies there.  I was “checking them out”. I was not judging them I was comparing myself to them.

Here was the situation:  We sat in a large circle and handed out our “Favorite” items we brought to share.  I was looking across the room at two ladies in particular.  It started with admiring their hair, earrings, and outfits, but quickly turned into…”I wish my hair looked like that.  I wish I were thin.  That outfit wouldn’t look that nice on me.  She seems so happy.”

It wasn’t even 10 seconds later that a friend sitting next to me whispered, “Do you ever feel like a broken woman?” Ah.  She had been thinking the same thing.  There we were.  Enjoying an evening out and trapped by comparison.  In reality the comparison was taking away our joy.

The trap of comparison is just that, a trap.  Once your mind starts down that path it is difficult to find your way out.  Here it is, four days later and I still feel icky about me.

Comparison takes away the joy of all that we do have.

Comparison quickly turns to negative-self talk.

Comparison shifts our mental focus to the negative in life.

Comparison is not only a trap, but it is a lie.

When I compare, (when we compare), I am comparing myself to what I see.  I am making assumptions about another.

If another woman is thin and well dressed, I am assuming that she is happy with herself.  Maybe she isn’t.

If someone’s child is well behaved, I am assuming they always are and that she is a better mother than I am.

If someone’s house is clean and organized, I am assuming it always is and that they have life figured out more than I do.

All this based on what my eyes see…

What do I compare the most?

1)      My body

2)      My hair

3)      My children

4)      My spouse

5)      My house

Do you compare yourself with others?

What areas do you find yourself comparing the most?

How does comparison affect your state of mind, your sense of peace?

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Feb 202013
 

My husband has been out of town for six days AND it is a three-day weekend…I am a little burnt out on parenting to say the least!

Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed the extra time with my girls, but I am feeling weary.  Yet this time has reminded me how important quality time with our children really is.

It is so very easy to push our little ones (or big ones) aside because of our “to-do” lists.  We do have responsibilities and need to set an example of what it looks like to be a responsible adult, however, let’s be honest with ourselves.  Let’s admit that Facebook time or games on the iPhone are not more important than our children.  When we repeatedly choose the computer (or you fill in the blank) over our children, we are communicating to them that they are less significant.

Two of the most basic needs of all children are to feel loved and accepted. One of the most critical ways to show that to our children is giving them our time and focused attention.

You have many tasks that need to be completed.  We all do.  This doesn’t mean that we can’t set aside a specific amount of time each day to spend focused attention with our child(ren). This time will nurture the relationship and deepen the bond.

What do I mean by focused attention?  

Schedule a time each day or a couple times a week where you have a play session with your child(ren).

How to have a Play Session:

1) Set a timer for 15 minutes (maybe 30 minutes) and get down on the floor and play with your child.

2) Allow your child to take the lead. If he would like to do a puzzle, do a puzzle. If she would like to color, then color with her.

3) Try your best to eliminate distractions. For example, turn off your phone. You may even need to leave the house. I have to do this sometimes! Go for a walk or play at the park.

4) Learn to recognize when your child(ren) is trying to communicate that they need your attention, i.e. their love tank is running low.

Often when a child repeatedly asks for help, asks you to play with them or is talking nonstop, they are in need of some focused attention.  It can be difficult to stop what you are doing when your child is needing you, however, if you are able, stop what you are doing to have a 15 minute play session. More than likely, your child’s love tank will be filled and you will be able to finish what you had started.

If you have more than one child, see if dad or a friend can be with the other child(ren) while you spend time with one. Yes, quality time takes more effort, but your children are worth it.

Please do not misunderstand me. Children do need boundaries. I am not encouraging you to always stop what you are doing and play with your child. I am encouraging you to consider how often you spend focused time with your child(ren) and allow them to take the lead every so often.

Some things to consider:

How often do you seek out your children?

Do you only engage when you have to? When they have misbehaved?

When was the last time you played with them?

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Feb 132013
 

Have you ever looked forward to something? Maybe you planned a birthday party in which you had great ideas. You spent time day dreaming. You planned the details. And sadly, the party did not go according to plan. Were you disappointed and not able to enjoy the activities?

I’ve experienced that kind of disappointment.

Or have you are looked forward to a particular stage of life?  Perhaps marriage or having children. You daydreamed about the wedding day and how perfect it would be. And naturally your marriage would be just as perfect.

You visualize your perfect future well-behaved children.

But reality hits and you realize marriage is hard work. Having children can be a challenge. Perhaps your life isn’t turning out how you expected.

This happened to me.

Coming from a home with a single mom, I had no real life example of what married life should look like. Without even realizing it, I had created an idealized idea of marriage.

I did the same with parenting. I fantasized about going to a coffee shop with my sweet baby who would quietly rest while I read a book and sipped a latte (HA!). My child would obey and never be like “that” noisy child in the grocery store (HA!).

Fast forward and I am 25 years with a colicky, strong-willed baby. I am in a marriage heading down a bumpy road.

Life had not lived up to my expectations. Plain and simple, I was not happy. Life was a lot harder than I had planned.

I feel blessed to say that my marriage is now stronger because of the bumpy road. My strong-willed baby girl has turned into a beautiful, smart, (still 🙂 strong-willed) 11 year-old.

I learned a great deal from the above experiences and how expectations have an impact on life.

Expectations greatly influence:

  • our perceptions
  • our feelings and emotions
  • our state of mind

Sometimes without even realizing it, we set high expectations for an event, another person or a particular stage of life. Often reality does not live up to our expectations.  If our expectations are not met, disappointment, frustration, sadness, and/or anger can ensue.

The bummer is we miss out on what could have been a blessing.

Our expectations can rob us of joy, if we allow them to. If the party doesn’t go as planned, if a friend disappoints us, or if our life stages are different than anticipated.

Having expectations is not inherently bad. However, it is important to learn to be flexible and not allow them to control our feelings and emotions.

Learning to keep your expectations in check:

1) When you find yourself frustrated or disappointed, ask yourself, “What were my expectations in this situation, relationship or life stage?”

2) Learn to be flexible. Go ahead with the daydreaming about life but be willing to accept change. If something changes or goes wrong, go with it and enjoy the moment.

3) Be fair to yourself and others. Do not set your expectations so high that no one (including you) can live up to them.

How have your expectations been influencing your peace of mind? 

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Feb 062013
 

Worry.

Silly thing to be addicted to, I know.

But it is true.

Scripture clearly states that we are to “worry about nothing, pray about everything” (paraphrase of Philippians 4:6). Yet I still worry.

Why is it that I worry?

Is it a false sense of control that if I worry things will turn out better? Or is it that if I worry about the worst, then when the worst happens I am prepared for it?

The crazy thing is, the worst almost never happens!

I used to think that my worry was associated to the stress I experienced during the economic downturn. But recently as I reflect back on my childhood and the early years of my marriage, I worried. In fact, I was a very anxious little girl.

What is it that I worry about? Money. My girls getting sick. Seriously sick. My husband dying (typically wives out live their husbands), me getting the “C” word (cancer).

On a good day I can keep my worry at bay. But there are days when it creeps in. Sometimes without me even realizing it.

I deeply believe that each one of us has a “loophole”, so to speak, that the enemy uses against us. It is the place that is our weakness. It may be self-doubt, a place of fear, a place where the enemy sneaks in, to distract us and rob us of our peace.

The moments when I am faced with worry, I can almost hear the whispers of the enemy pulling me down.

The key to victory is to discover and learn to recognize your “loophole”.  Then you can fight against the enemy when he tries to use your loophole against you.

For me, with worry, I have to talk with myself and walk through the scenarios I fear most. Asking myself, what is it that I am afraid of? IF my fear is realized, what will happen?

More times than not as I process through my worry, my feared outcome is far-fetched and/or if something bad were to happen, it likely would not be that bad.

I worry. We all worry sometimes. The key is not to be controlled by worry. To be aware of the worry and how it impacts us. To learn to release control over to God.

What is your loophole? Your unspoken spot where the enemy can creep in. Can you identify how it is robbing you of a peaceful mind?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan 232013
 

There is more to life than feeling overwhelmed. Our creator longs for us to live a life filled with peace and joy.

Last week I shared about feeling overwhelmed.

I seem to be the most stressed when my mind is focused on earthly things. Such as my “should” and “need to” lists.  That is when I feel the least amount of peace and joy.

The key to experiencing peace and joy in our daily living is inviting God to be a part of it all. But what does that really look like?

When I mentally focus on God, His creation around me, Scripture or my Blessings, He gives me peace and joy. The above exercises shift my perspective back to things above and remind me “life is not an emergency” (Ann Voskamp).

God is not a magic genie (to quote my 5 year old). No matter how much we wish He would wave a magic wand to take away the stress that is not what He always does. My tasks will be completed OR they will not. Still everything will be ok.

Here are a few tangible steps that help me experience peace and joy:

  1. Upon waking up in the morning, look to Jesus. Invite Him to be a part of your day. Ask for His guidance in your choices with your time and to be a part of all that you do.
  2. Pray without ceasing. Pray in the shower. Pray in the car. Pray about everything. Not just requests but prayers of Thanksgiving.
  3. Be aware of how your choices with your time. Be honest with yourself about these choices.  At the end of the day evaluate how much time you spent on the computer and on the phone.  Did you make time for prayer?  (Chances are that if you over spent your time on the computer or forgot to pray, you may feel overwhelmed or incomplete.)
  4. Take care of the “hot spot” in your home.  I read an organizing book (sorry, can’t remember the name) about how we each have a “hot spot” around our home. This is a task, that when not completed, brings us anxiety. It is the area that you should always take care of.  I discovered that one of my “hot spots” is unfolded laundry in my bedroom. Each time I see it I feel anxious and stressed. Once I started making an effort to fold clothes and put them away on a regular basis, I was amazed at the difference it made for my state of mind.
  5. Only touch something once. For example, if you have something that needs to go to the recycling, take it straight there. Don’t set it down to be done later. Later comes quickly and the item may be forgotten. You are helping yourself a great deal by completing a task and not leaving it for later.
  6. Be conscious of your thoughts. What do you spend the most time thinking about?  The more unpleasant the things you focus on, the crummier you will feel. The opposite is also true. The more positive, joyful thoughts you have, the better you will feel.

*Please remember that I am human and inherently flawed. I DO NOT have it all together and fail each and every day.  These are just a few things that helped me in my journey to experience greater joy and peace. When I remember to apply these things to my daily living, I feel significantly less stressed.

What do you do to feel less overwhelmed?

I wanted to share with you a song that has been speaking to me these last few days…

Give Me Jesus

Admin

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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