You can do anything, but not everything.

Today’s post is a perfectly timed guest post from my online friend Jacey from The Balanced Wife.  This idea that you can do anything, but not everything is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way over many years.  Even this week, I had to say no to writing here as work and family priorities took over.  Jacey gives some very wise encouragement here I hope you take to heart.  Also, be sure to check out her brand new eBook on the same topic at the bottom!

 

You can do anything, but not everything

I sent a relieving but discouraging email last week. I had agreed to help someone with a small but recurring task, but I knew in my gut even as I said yes that I should have said no.

So there I was, a month later, backing out for reasons that were already true when I said yes in the first place.

This wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last I commit for all the wrong reasons: out of obligation, fear of letting someone down or fear of missing out.

Even when my reason is pure – a genuine desire to help – I find myself in the same position by denying the limits of my time, energy and attention.

Admitting my limitations feels like admitting weakness, but I’m learning that an inability to say no is itself a weakness that says more about my insecurity than my reliability.

To be available for what’s most important, we have to say no to what isn’t. It takes strength and wisdom to discern the difference.

What happens to overcommitted women who habitually pile on more? They lose their joy. They get stressed and anxious and stop attending to the truly essential.

They consult their checklists and their calendars and tie their self worth to checked boxes. They forget to thaw the chicken for dinner, forget to return the call that mattered, forget to pray.

They start resenting the commitments they’ve made to good things. Acts of service become a point of pride (the destructive kind) and identity. It all starts to feel too heavy, too burdensome.

They dream of a nap and a bubble bath but feel guilty indulging in either. They act from their own strength and inevitably burn out.

What do we do in the face of this losing cycle? Unfortunately, I’m afraid we perpetuate it. Instead of assuring that exhausted woman it’s okay to get off the treadmill, I find myself rushing to the first treadmill I can find. Surely if she can do it, I can too.

No more.

That thing that’s draining your energy? It’s okay to quit. Maybe it’s a book you are slogging through, or an exhausting friendship. It could be a failing business, a networking group, a gym membership, or an unreasonable client.

Maybe The Blog of Lee S Rosen is a good thing that needs to be set aside to make room for something better. Whatever that thing is, lay it down, because you can’t do it all.

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Here’s to saying no from strength instead of yes from weakness. Here’s to running the race He’s set before us and forsaking all others.

 

Jacey is passionate about living intentionally in the face of real demands, the unexpected, and human nature itself. Her book on the topic, Escaping Reaction; Embracing Intention, released this month. She writes about relationships, faith and personal growth at The Balanced Wife. She lives in Charleston, SC with her husband, Mike, and golden retriever, Jack.

6 Things to Do When You Fail at Your Goals

Ahhh!

We’re halfway through January already! And if you’re like me, your goals are already starting to slip through your fingers—and that’s putting it nicely.  When we fail at meeting our goals, it’s really easy to slip into believing we’re failures at everything and give it all up.  But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Follow me over to Giving Up on Perfect for 6 Things to Do When You Fail at Your Goals.

 

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If you’re popping over from Giving Up on Perfect, welcome!  If you’re a friend of Mary’s, I just know we’re going to get along!  You’ll find posts about faith, family, fashion, frugality and fun here.  Let’s connect!  Subscribe for posts in email or like AmyJBennett on Facebook.  You’ll also find me on Pinterest , Instagram and Twitter.

Defining Hospitality in the Age of Pinterest

Today’s guest post is by Jacey from The Balanced Wife.  Jacey hasn’t been blogging for long but she has a great writing style, a great heart and she’s another Carolina girl to boot.

coffee date

 

In college, when I moved into my own apartment for the first time, I loved the idea of inviting people into it. My roommates and I hosted game nights and birthday parties.

We invited friends and boyfriends for lunch or dinner, cookie baking or popcorn and movie night. I’m surprised we didn’t all gain weight that year, between daily Ranch dressing consumption and frequent baked goods.

As much as I liked inviting people, perfectionist tendencies drove me to try to control every variable. I struggled to enjoy these orchestrated events, my head swimming with details.

I may have been a control freak, but I had a near delusional confidence in my entertaining and cooking skills. Sometimes my recipes didn’t turn out, or they took hours longer than expected, but I somehow maintained the belief that I excelled at all things domestic.

As I’ve ventured into an adulthood filled with talented friends and Pinterest boards, my confidence has wavered. When I frost a cupcake, it looks like a toddler did the job with finger paint.

I cannot see a room and picture furniture in it. I had a near meltdown picking paint colors when we moved into our current apartment.

That’s the other thing: we live in an apartment. An old apartment, with no central air conditioning and dingy, grey linoleum in the kitchen, a corner of which is missing since our dog ate it. We have IKEA furniture, some damaged by the move, and our house was damaged by a water leak there was in the ceiling, but luckily we fixed it with a great home improvement company, learn more here. I have avoided decorating due to budget constraints and general ineptitude.

I still invite people over, but only after clearing about 18 mental hurdles. The good news is, I’m having a breakthrough of sorts. And I’ll share it with you: my domestic insecurity stems from the premise that entertaining is a performance instead of an act of service. I feel uptight because I make entertaining more about me than about my guests.

The common theme among parties and gatherings I’ve enjoyed most is that I’ve felt honored, like the person who invited me was really glad I was there. Sometimes, the honor is extended by a handmade place card, sometimes by a slice of frozen pizza, sometimes by a last minute request that I bring something.

Universally, people crave inclusion and validation. When people come into my home, am I treating them like the guests of honor they truly are, or am I too afraid of their imaginary judgment to make them comfortable?

True hospitality is less performance, more service. As Shauna Niequist writes beautifully in Bread and Wine, “the heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved.” My culinary, decorating and baking skills may not be anything special, but I can still make people feel special.

The love which says, “Come in, as you are; you belong here,” can feel far off when it’s clouded by our brokenness. If a good host can give the gift of true belonging, even if for one evening, then she has embodied the love of God.

 

 

jacey Jacey loves good books and deep conversations. You can find her on her blog, The Balanced Wife, where she pursues exceptional living. She lives with her husband, Michael, and dog, Jack, in Charleston, SC.

 

Photo credit: Photo Credit: jenny downing via Compfight cc

If You Don’t Give Me Cheetos

Today you get to read a fabulous guest post from my friend Katrina.  Katrina is a blog friend turned in real life friend.  We’ve been able to get together a few times locally, we drove to see Emily Freeman speak and she let me cry on her shoulder at Allume last year.

Katrina has a fantastic sense of sarcasm, is a deep thinker and loves the Lord.  Just my kind of person.  I hope you’ll visit Katrina over at her blog. Be sure to check out her Provision Stories just after you read and comment on this one!  Here’s Katrina:

 

Amy may have introduced this as a “guest post,” but I’m not going to kid you. I’m totally hiding out over here because I need a place to confess. You see, my blog has a bit of a reputation for talking about real food, so it’s just not a safe place to use the word “Cheetos.” I have something to get off my chest, so I begged her to invite me over.

 

DSCN2682 I have a daughter. She is three and three-quarter years old. She is a diva. Strong-willed. Spoiled. Adorable. Bratty. Darling. A Control Freak. Innocent. Devilish. Angelic. Beastly. You probably know a kid like this. She loves Cheetos. She is like a moth to a flame with Cheetos. Every time we eat at Subway (here I duck down to avoid the scowls of my readers who cannot bear to learn that I darken the door of such an establishment, much less feed her food that Satan feeds his spawn), she runs to the chip display and performs a jack-in-the-box like spastic thrown-down. CHEETOS!! CHEETOS! CHEETOS!!

Since, we do not buy this kind of food at home, I let her eat Cheetos at Subway as a treat. However, last week, I made the mistake of taking all three of my luverlies to the Harris Teeter to pick up a few items. Normally, I know better than to take three snacky shorties shopping, but apparently, I was feeling extremely stupid. Thus I found myself on the “pretzel aisle” being accosted by my three tinies with ginormous brown eyes and pleading voices. They promised that if I bought them Cheetos that they’d stop pulling the shopping cart back and forth like a jerky roller coaster. Additionally, they would be good for the rest of their lives, AND they would love me forever. Well, as I stated, I was feeling extremely stupid, so like an idiot, I bought the Cheetos. (PS: Judge not. Lest you shall be judged.)

The Cheetos came home to our house. They moved into the cupboard and lived just downshelf from all my organic grains and healthy nuts, etc. With their crunchy fried, GMO laden, excitotoxin filled puff, they sang their neon orange powdery siren-song to my babies. Especially to my little three-year old.

After I picked her up from pre-school last week, where she’d had a few Cheetos in her lunch, she badgered me relentlessly all the way home for more. I refused. (I was feeling slightly less stupid.) However, unlike my older two mild-mannered, easy going, relatively compliant children, this girl does not take no for an answer.

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If you don’t give me Cheetos, I’m not going to eat anything else.

Okay, honey

If you don’t give me Cheetos, I’m not going to play with you.

Alright.

If you don’t give me Cheetos, I’m not going to stay with you.

I’m very sorry to hear that.

If you don’t give me Cheetos, I’m going in my room and I’ll never see you ever again.

I will really miss you.

This went on for the entire ride home and then she followed me around the house, threatening me with all the terribly things she would do to me as punishment for withholding Cheetos from her.

Eventually, I went to hide in the bathroom. (PS: Judge not. In fact, judge never. I’m pretty sure that judging my friends with strong willed kids is what prompted the Lord to send me this little Princess.)

Anywho, when I came out, she was standing outside the door, hands on her hips. She said firmly, If you don’t give me Cheetos, I’m gonna hit you in the face.” Y’all. I burst out laughing. It couldn’t be helped. I clasped my hand over my face as quickly as I could, but she knew I thought it was funny. And she started laughing too. And I did not give her Cheetos. (Or the spank that my husband insisted she should have gotten.)

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Okay, there is probably a couple good lessons that I could extract from the aforementioned parenting debacle pertaining to child nutrition, discipline, and/or standing up to Meter-high bullies, but I’m gonna go a different way because, as is plainly obvious, I’m no expert in those categories.

Remember in 1 Samuel 8 when the Israelites begged and begged and begged and begged and begged for a king? The Lord told them ALL the reasons that a king would be a bad idea, but they were relentless. So He gave them their choice. He allowed them to have what they wanted–even though it was inferior to His best plan.

When they rejected God as King, He gave them what they wanted because they persistently asked for it. I wish I was making this up, but if you go read it, you will see that it’s true.

I don’t know all of God’s motives, but I speculate that he knew they would experience the consequences of having a human king. Boy howdy, did they ever. Like war, split kingdom, exile, slavery, devastation. (Read the rest of the Bible for more info on this.)

Now mind you, He didn’t abandon them. In fact, He actually chose and anointed human kings for them, but that wasn’t His first plan for them. He Himself was. We are told in churchy settings that we will always be given God’s best, but I don’t think that is what Scripture actually demonstrates. Thanks to free-will, we can ask for second-best, or even worse. Girlfriends, that is scary. It is scary because when God doesn’t answer the way I want, I just get all super-mature. Even though I’m ashamed to admit it, I start playing this crazy pre-schooler game. I tell myself that I’m “waiting on the Lord,” but this is what I’m doing.

If you don’t give me what I want, I’m not going to spend time with you.

If you don’t give me what I want, I’m not going to serve you.

If you don’t give me what I want, I’m not going to worship you.

If you don’t give me what I want, I’m going to be complacent about you.

If you don’t give me what I want, I’m not going to trust you.

DSCN2678 My little exchange with my daughter brought to light how ridiculous it is to think that I can manipulate God’s will with threats and blackmail. Worse, I realized He may just GIVE ME WHAT I WANT–not because he’s stupid, exhausted, or beaten down like human-me, but because He knows I need to experience some consequences for my immaturity.

Then, triumphantly, face covered in toxic orange powder, I skip off with my less-than-best, thinking that God finally came through because I shook my tiny fist at Him. Meanwhile, I wonder why I lack His power in my life.

My lesson is that I need to learn between persistence and stubbornness. When the Lord says no to me, time and again, rather than behaving like a petulant child, I want to be willing to say, “I will trust you.” I want to ask for HIS WILL, not my own. I want to receive what He actually gives me with thanksgiving, not grumpiness.

 

How can you tell the difference between persistence and stubbornness in your heart? Has God ever allowed you to have the second-best? How was it?

 

 

Katrina with Amy Katrina Ryder is married to an elementary school music teacher and is the mom of three Cheeto-eaters. Formerly a high school teacher and missionary in Papua New Guinea, she now stays home in small town NC, gives herself pedicures, and eats bon-bons. Bwah-ha-hahaha. Katrina, who never avoids sarcasm, is a reluctant real foodie who blogs about faith, finances, food, and family.  In it’s third year, Katrina’s blog has suffered an identity crisis and changed names from The Poorganic Life to KatrinaRyder.com. Katrina loves Jesus, missions, hip-hop dance, gardening, country music, Henry James novels, talking too much, wearing makeup, and eating crusty bread. You can connect with Katrina mostly on Facebook, reluctantly on Twitter, and almost never on Pinterest.