Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

A Blogger’s Prayer

This weekend marked the one month birthday of this blog, Being Confident of This.  It’s a blog I started, but I’ve decided not to call it my blog anymore because it really isn’t.  It’s God’s blog. The reason I say it’s His blog is because He’s done greater things for it in this short time than I could have ever imagined!

I’m happy to tell you that today “Being Confident of This” is being featured on two other blogs! Exciting! 🙂  My cousin, Angie, at http://www.angieknutson.com/ has been a huge help to me in my blogging journey this far.  She has a wealth of knowledge and has been kind enough to share it with me, in spite of her own busy schedule, on multiple occasions.  I really appreciate her support! Tomorrow she’ll be sharing a brand new post from me about how to handle dreary mornings, so stay tuned for that!!

So far, He’s used this blog to reach others, but even more, He’s used it to reach me.  How often do we set out in life to lead others, to teach them, only to realize we are being taught ourselves?  That’s how I feel about this whole blogging experience so far. 🙂

A Blogger's Prayer

So, here’s my prayer as I continue on in this journey:

I see what you did there, God.  I see how you used that post about Mary Moments in a Martha World to remind me that the best thing is spending time with you.  I see how the post about  being a Transformer convicted me to live out truth in love.  I see that the biggest flaw in our Sanity Saving Chore Charts is whether or not we as parents are consistent in our follow-up.

At the same time, Lord, I’m learning that I have to be careful with this blogging thing.  I heard my little boy the other day when he said I was spending too much time on the computer. I know I need to watch how much time I pour into this.  I have to find balance between my time with you and blogging and family and church.  It’s not easy, but I know You’ll help me.  I see now that it’s part of the process, part of that work in progress.

Father, I’m also learning that you just want me to be me and to trust You to give me the words to say.  When I try to create a fabulous post on my own – it flops. 🙂  When I trust You for the message, it soars.  I see how that works, God, and I’m trying to get out of the way so that You can use me.

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I also see, Lord, the potential to find my worth in the numbers (now I know what my pastoring husband feels like!).  I don’t want numbers to be a measure of who I am.  I want who I am to be found in You alone.  Help me to be obedient to You in sharing the messages You give without worrying about how many people are visiting today, tomorrow, or the next day.  Help me to remember that the value is in the obedience to You.

Most of all, Lord, I want to remember that it was Your idea to create this blog, not mine!  Like anything else in my life, it ultimately belongs to You.  Help me to surrender that control!  Help me to remember that You can bring an audience all on Your own with no help from me.  I’m simply the vessel.  Make me a humble vessel.

Thank You, Father, for this amazing journey.

In Christ alone,

Jen 🙂

What is God teaching you lately?  If you feel free to share, leave a comment! 🙂

Also linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

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Five Minute Friday: Imagine

Imagine.

Imagine a home filled with three rowdy, laughing boys and one daughter with a giggle high and light.

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In that home you might hear such phrases as:

“Don’t lick your brother’s face” and

“You can’t beat up your sister’s special doll.”

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You might also find messes like this on your nine-foot ceilings,

evidence of a seven-year-old boy left too long in the bath. 🙂

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Now imagine a young, often tired mama, who tends to be on the serious side.

She dislikes messes,

and rowdiness,

and chaos.

She appreciates controlled fun, if there is such a thing.

I never imagined myself to be the mama of so many boys, but I certainly am thankful for God’s wisdom in placing them in my care.  By the grace of God, I’m learning to embrace

noise,

chaos,

wrestling, and even….

….fart jokes. 🙂

Imagine that tired, young mama opening her mind and heart to a world of fun and let’s pretend.  Those rowdy boys and silly daughter teach her to play. They teach her to take life less seriously.

Imagine life without my children?  Impossible!

Jen 🙂

What do your children teach you?  Share with us in the comments.

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Sanity Saving Chore Charts

Sanity Saving Chore Charts

Last summer we sold our home and moved to a new town so that we could live in the community that we are currently ministering to.   We were very blessed to be able to move into a larger home with plenty of open space downstairs.  I just knew it would be perfect for the kids and perfect for entertaining people from our church, as well as new neighbors and friends.  What I didn’t count on was the time it would take to adjust to cleaning and maintaining a larger home!

Perhaps it wasn’t only the larger house but also the fact that we’d spent the previous year living with the bare minimum as most of our possessions were packed away in an attempt to present a tidy, de-cluttered home-for-sale to possible buyers. When we unpacked all of our “stuff” at our new home, it was a lot more to keep track of and we had not yet established where each item belonged.  Perhaps part of the problem was that our children, particularly our then 3-year-old twins, had grown a lot, which meant bigger messes, more loads of laundry, and additional cooking for those growing appetites.  Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest decision to also take on a new pet so soon after moving (our beloved cat, Cheddar).

Whatever factors were involved, I quickly found myself overwhelmed by the cleaning projects that come with maintaining an older, farm-style home that had not been lived in for at least a year, if not longer.

Nevertheless, I struggled for months with being overwhelmed by the housework and feeling like I was always “behind.”  Because I felt frustrated and overwhelmed, every little mess the kids made irritated me – every spilled cup, every toy left out, every article of dirty clothing on the floor – and I often found myself grumping at them even as I was telling myself to have patience.  I felt like I was losing my mind!  It was as if I was stuck in Romans 7, knowing what I wanted to do, but feeling utterly incapable of doing it.  A storm raged within, threatening to unleash itself at any given moment.

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So, after many tears of frustration and quite a bit of prayer, my husband and I sat down to discuss the situation in hopes of finding a solution.  We decided it was high time to expect a little more of our four children.  You see, our children have always had chores, but we both admitted that we’d become a little lax in our supervision of them, which was understandable.  It had been a busy year and a half of selling our old home and of settling in, not only to our new home, but also to new ministries we were attempting at our church.

We decided that the best way to save my sanity was to create a new chore system!  I set about researching some age appropriate chores since we have such a wide age-span in our family, and we quickly realized that we failed to see how much our children had grown.  I don’t mean that we failed to notice the obvious that they were taller, older, but that we failed to notice they were now more mature and more capable of handling more difficult tasks.

For our younger two children, we chose this flip-up system with pictures of each daily chore they have.  When all chores are finished and flipped up, they can see their name.  Need a little help getting started? You can check out my pinterest board  (http://pinterest.com/stults6/parenting/)  for DIY tutorials that I used as a base for building my own.  (Also, my amazing sister has taken these flip charts a step further with some great ideas at her new blog Love Notes.  In addition to the flip charts, she utilizes a morning and evening checklist and a chore jar, where children get to choose an extra chore to complete and receive a nice prize.)

Preschool chores focus mainly on taking care of the body, and beginning to take responsibility for their own messes.  For our children, we chose to incorporate things that we would like to become daily habits such as: brushing teeth, making bed, getting dressed, clearing dishes from the table, picking up laundry, and picking up toys.

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They both remain very enthusiastic about flipping up the chores they have done each day, even after several months have passed!  In fact, our daughter often wants to do her bedtime chores (laundry) in the morning because she wants her name to be complete, and sometimes she even reminds us of a chore they haven’t yet done. On the other hand, our youngest son is a good follower and enjoys the praise of a job well done. 🙂

Our older boys have a much more complex chore chart that is laminated so it can be re-used.  We use dry-erase markers to check things off.  One of the things I like most about the chart for the older boys is that it is divided into categories that emphasize different areas of their personal responsibilities.

The categories for their charts include taking care of: my body, my room, our home, our vehicles, our pets, and my relationship with God. They have daily responsibilities as well as a few weekly responsibilities.  Some of the weekly responsibilities have options to allow for personal choice, and the tasks in that area of the chart are more difficult for our oldest son, who is 13.  Again, if you’re not sure where to start, take a look at my pintrest board.  The chart we came up with was a combination of several different ideas.

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(One important note: the “Taking care of my relationship with God” area is included mostly as a reminder to our older boys. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure whether to include it or not, but we decided to.  Since that relationship is personal in nature, we encourage them to make it a priority daily, but we don’t force them to. We don’t want time with God to be assigned a “task” status.)

In our home, chores are part of being a family and working together toward a common goal, which is to be good stewards of the material things God has blessed us with.  We believe that doing chores helps our children to learn personal responsibility as well as team-workFor that reason, we do not pay our children an allowance in relation to their chores.  Instead, we reserve allowance for teaching financial stewardship and how money works in general, but that is just our family preference.

However, our older boys were understandably less excited about the new charts, and our 7-year-old was so overwhelmed by the change that he was practically in tears.  (What he didn’t realize is that most of the things on his list were things he already does on a daily basis, like brushing his teeth and making his bed.) In an attempt to lighten the mood and help them adjust to additional responsibilities, we added a bonus for good attitudes and for helpfulness without prompting – an additional 50 cents on their allowance.

Now, for our new chore system to function well, we realized that we would need a consequence for those times when our older boys failed to complete their chores.  We wanted the consequence to be more of a learning opportunity (“the punishment fits the crime” approach).  Eventually we settled on this method:  if there is a pattern of a chore going undone, then the consequence would be to complete the undone chore, as well as an additional one.

I love this solution!  It simultaneously helps me and provides an unpleasant experience that they don’t wish to repeat. I’m happy to report that we rarely have to enforce consequences with the chores because the boys really, really dislike doing extra chores.

Although we’ve had a few bumps along the way, our house has been much tidier in general, considering we have four children living here.  I no longer feel overwhelmed on a daily basis.  Additionally, I’m less uptight about the messes the little ones make because I know they’ll be picking them up before bed.  My sanity has been restored!!  Perhaps most importantly, I know that developing these good habits now will benefit them greatly as they grow into adulthood.

Although initially the chore charts mean a little more work for us parents in supervising and making sure tasks are completed (or even teaching a new skill), the goal is to eventually make parenting a little easier in this area of keeping a tidy home. Our hope is that one day we won’t even have to ask them if they have completed their chores because checking the chart on their own will become so habitual that they will no longer need our reminders.

So, if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by your housework, feeling taken for granted as the one who cleans up after everyone, or feeling like you just might lose your mind, consider the following questions.

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  1. Who does the chores?  Are you expecting enough help from your children, or do they think it is just Mom’s job to clean up after everyone all of the time?  Or do you often take on the majority of the work because it’s easier to just “do it yourself?”  I admit to being guilty as charged on both accounts previously.  However, especially if you have sons, try to consider how their future wives might feel about this unhealthy portrait of what a wife and mother is “supposed” to do.  At the same time, think of the message you are sending your young daughters.  Yes, we are called to be homemakers, managers of the household, but that does not mean we have to do everything on our own! 🙂
  2. Are the chores age-appropriate?  If, like me, you failed to realize how “big” your babies are getting, you might want to rethink your expectations of them. If you are unsure of what chores are appropriate for your children, a quick google search or pintrest search will return a wealth of information!
  3. Are the chores focused on teaching your children personal responsibility? One of our goals with the new charts was to emphasize the stewardship aspect of chores. We want our children to learn to take care of their things and the things we share commonly, such as our home and vehicles.
  4. Are the chores fairly distributed?  Yes, older children are capable of handling more responsibilities than younger children.  However, avoid burdening one child with the majority of responsibility.  For example, when in a hurry to tidy up previously, I would ask our oldest son to pick up the toys. He is generally helpful and I knew he would do a good job.  However, when my husband and I looked at teaching personal responsibility, I realized I was making a mistake.  It wasn’t really his mess to clean up; therefore, it was unfair of me to ask him to take care of something his younger brother and sister should really be responsible for.  With the new chore system, we really worked at making sure he wasn’t bearing a disproportionate load just because he is older and is more compliant.  Additionally, make sure you don’t put off the majority of the housework onto your children. Mom should have her own set of chores to do (Dad too)!  Lead by example. 🙂

For now I am very happy (and sane!) with our current chore system, but I’m sure after a time we’ll need to look at it again and make changes. I wouldn’t mind trying out a few different methods to give the children a variety, to keep it fresh and exciting.  However, the lessons we learned about what to expect from our children will remain helpful and our over-all goals will probably change very little. Thankfully, I now feel like I”m living less in Romans 7 and more in Romans 8 (the whole “we are more than conquerors” chapter!).  If you don’t currently have a chore system in place, why not give one a try? It just might save your sanity!

Jen 🙂

What methods do you use for teaching responsibility and team-work in the home?  Give us your best advice in the comments!

For more great ideas on how to maximize the flip charts for younger children, check out this blog:

http://sarahjofairchild.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/bogo-mommyhood-chore-charts/

You might find this post linked up at any of these lovely blogs.

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Peaceful Parenting (No Thanks to Pinterest)

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I’ll be honest, we’ve been experiencing some parenting problems in our home recently.  With four children, it’s bound to happen from time to time!  Our middle child is struggling socially at school since we moved last summer and has requested to home school this fall.  While I’m willing and capable of teaching him at home, we want to be certain it is the best solution for him.  We don’t want a temporary social issue to become a lifelong problem for him, so we are somewhat hesitant to let him withdraw.  On the other hand, he is highly intelligent, so perhaps being able to work at a quicker pace would allow him to better blossom and gain self-confidence.  Either choice is accompanied by both positives and negatives.

At the same time, one of our preschoolers has been demonstrating some very disrespectful behavior by grunting or growling when I attempt to correct him.  It’s basically the same thing as saying, “NO, Mom!” Part of the problem is that I wasn’t expecting such stubbornness to surface at the age of four!  What happened to my sweet two-year-old?  The one who was going to make it easy for me by skipping the terrible two’s altogether?  His new attitude feels much like a surprise attack, and I’m left floundering for some sort of defense!

We’ve tried various methods of correction: a gentle verbal reproach, a second chance to respond respectfully, some time alone to think about his behavior, even a consequence.  Although we’ve been consistently correcting his behavior, I’m often tempted to wonder if it’s really doing any good.  Continuing in our efforts to parent with Christ in mind is difficult when we are not seeing results.  What am I doing wrong?  What should I do differently?  Sometimes when we’re parenting, there is no clear right or wrong answer.

And this is where I struggle.  When I lack enough evidence or direction to declare one parenting choice as superior to another for our children and our family, I often worry that I’ll make the “wrong choice.” I can become obsessed with gathering information from various sources in an attempt to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, when I turn to parenting resources (even Christian parenting resources), I often find that they can contradict each other in the details.

In our “how-to” age, we can access a hundred different opinions or even tried-and-true techniques about any given subject.  Do you know how many different methods Pintrest lists for something basic like potty-training?  Throw a pee-pee party.  Let them go at their own pace.  Model the behavior using a peeing doll. Use a reward chart. Let them run around naked for a few days.  I even found a pin for a potty-training app!  Which one should a desperate parent choose??

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As a mother of four children (all potty-trained now, whew!), I know that all of these methods have some merit, but not a single one will work well with every child, every time.  Thus, a potential problem with looking to others for help is the tendency to see that repeatedly re-pinned, how-to post as “gospel-truth.”

As I was thinking about social media and how it has changed the way we parent, I wondered: what happened to relying on the Spirit to guide us?  What happened to prayer?  Shouldn’t it be the first on our list of things to do when parenting challenges us? I’ll be the first to admit that when I encounter a problem or challenge, I often run to other humans for wisdom first!  It’s natural to ask our peers for advice.  However, consider King Solomon’s humble request, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chron. 2:10).

You see, Solomon had some pretty big shoes to fill when taking over his father David’s kingdom.  How would you like to be next in line after the “man after God’s own heart?”  Solomon knew he lacked wisdom for leading. He also faced a huge project, the building of the temple! The temple would be a place of worship for generations to come, and the burden rested on Solomon’s shoulders.

Parenting is a little like that, isn’t it?  We know that the choices we make will affect not only our own children, but also our children’s children and even the generations to come.  Like Solomon’s task, our task is also great, for a whole world of lost people is at stake! The key is remembering who our children ultimately belong to.  Solomon recognized that He was given authority not over his OWN people, but over GOD’S people.  In the same way, as parents we’ve been entrusted with these beautiful beings, but they don’t really belong to us.  They belong to Him.  Like Solomon, we should ask Him for wisdom to lead them, His children.

Please hear me out; I’m not suggesting we exclude the advice of others. I really do enjoy Facebook, Pintrest, and other social media forums and have successfully used many ideas from other savvy moms (along with a few epic failures)! 🙂   I believe technology can be a wonderful tool for us sisters in Christ to share wisdom from the Lord. I firmly believe women are meant to teach and encourage one another in their Christ-centered living.  Titus and Timothy both address the blessings older, more experienced women have to offer to younger generations.  However, what I am suggesting is that we not forget the ultimate source of wisdom when it comes to parenting, or really anything in life – our Father God.

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In the midst of my parenting problems, I hear His voice.  Trust Me.  Ask ME for wisdom instead of asking others first. Be led by the Holy Spirit and by my WordAfter all, I am their Creator; who better to understand them and their needs, but me?  Persevere in your purposeful parenting and wait to see what happens.

I still don’t know how to best correct our four-year-old’s sudden defiance, nor do I know where our middle child will attend school this coming fall.  Both situations are works in progress. Perhaps what both require is simply more time.  However, I do know that in the midst of my uncertainty, I can trust Him.  He is in control. He knows my heart is in the right place.  He knows I want to be a peaceful parent, not one ruled by fear, or dare I even say, by Pintrest? 🙂

My sisters in Christ, if like me, you often feel confused by the wide variety of parenting styles, methods, and opinions out there, I hope today you hear His voice: trust in Me.  If you find yourself lying wide awake at night wondering, “What am I going to do with this child?!,” ask for wisdom.  And then sleep peacefully knowing that although your children have imperfect parents, they are perfectly protected in the hands of the Father.

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I’d love to hear from you, if you are willing to share!

What parenting issues are you struggling with lately?  What scriptures have you turned to for wisdom or  encouragement in parenting?

Jen 🙂

If pressure to be a perfect parent plagues you, you might enjoy:

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  You might also enjoy:

http://wegotreal.com/things-arent-always-as-they-seem/

Also linking up at:

http://abidingwoman.com/

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The Superwoman Myth

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This will be a slightly interactive post since I’m adapting it from a Mother’s Day talk I’ll be giving this weekend.  I’d love for you to take the time to actually do the interactive parts (at beginning and end), if you feel so led.

Beginning Activity:  Write down (or think of) the personality trait that you dislike most about yourself.  For example: I am shy, I am too loud, I have a temper, I am impatient, and so forth.  Hold onto this until the end.

……………………

A few weeks ago, my seven-year-old son came to me after receiving a scolding and said something that shook me to the core: “Mom, sometimes I feel like you expect me to be perfect.”  Immediately my eyes burned with tears because I knew that feeling, the feeling of not being good enough, and I certainly did not want my child to ever fear that he wasn’t “good enough” for me!  Nevertheless, somehow I had sent that message to him, and although unintentional on my part, I felt overwhelmed by conviction and sadness, and then by guilt.

It was one of those mommy moments when I realized that I had become exactly the kind of mother I did NOT want to be.  You see, God’s been speaking to me about this issue lately, about my tendency toward perfectionism.  When my young son brought this problem to the forefront I realized that I’m not the only one affected by it.  It’s not only frustrating for me, but it’s something that often negatively effects my relationships with others also. For these reasons, perfectionism is a trait I have that I greatly dislike.

So why do so many of us women struggle with perfectionism and other personality flaws?  Because we have bought into the Superwoman Myth.  You know, the myth about the woman who does it all and does it perfectly!!  Wouldn’t we all love to be that supreme woman, to bask in the knowledge that we ROCK at being women – everyday in every thing and all of the time.

Unfortunately, we realize that we often fall very short of this ideal.  If Superwoman truly exists, she certainly is difficult to find in our everyday lives.

The first contributor to this myth is self.  How many times have you written yourself a to-do list a mile long and actually expected to get most of those tasks accomplished?  And at the end of the day when you have only made it to number 4, how do you feel?  Frustrated? Discouraged?

Or consider this: How often do you feel like you’re making so much progress in one area, only to discover you’re completely falling apart in another?

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Although some of us may come close on a given day, soaring above the circumstances of messy homes, sick family members, extra hours of work, and so forth, the perfect mother, the perfect wife, sister, friend, daughter, child of God – she does not exist!

Instead of listening to the lies perpetuated by our superwoman-wannabe selves, let’s listen to the truths our Creator God has to say about us.  Psalm 139:13-14 tells us,

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”

God created you purposefully and intentionally to be who you are.  While he did not create you to sin, He did create you with your unique personality, your unique strengths and weaknesses. Even those things we tend to see as our weaknesses can become strengths with His help.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10,

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The personality traits we so often view as flaws have positive aspects to them, sisters. For example, while my perfectionism easily leads to worry and sin, it is incredibly helpful for tasks that require attention to detail.  Likewise, people who are argumentative may be difficult to get along with, yet their make excellent lawyers and advocates for others.  Those who are easy-going may lack organizational skills, but they are great friends and listeners.

Let’s find the beauty in being who God created us to be.  Let’s allow Him to work in our weaknesses to make us strong.

Although prideful self has much to do with perpetuating the Superwoman Myth, prideful self is often accompanied by a focus on others. While self focuses more on our own perceived character flaws, a focus on others leads to a whole other host of lies.  How many of us can honestly say that we’ve never compared ourselves to another woman...ever?!

None of us can.  Especially in this age of social media, we are very aware of the skills other women have, whether the skills lie in business, in being friendly, in being a great parent, in being an excellent cook, in being an artist, and on and on and on.

Furthermore, we often envy those things in others that we feel we are lacking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to admire others and to challenge ourselves to grow.  We definitely want to be the best wife/mother/sister/daughter/aunt/whatever we can possibly be.

The problem is that sometimes when we see all of this womanly awesomeness out there, we wish that we could be someone we are not, someone we were never created to be.  We wish we could be more … more pretty, more popular, more successful in a career, more creative, more successful in homemaking or parenting – you fill in the blank!

But the beauty of a relationship with God is that it’s personal, unique to the individual.  While all women are similar in that we are imperfect sinners, saved only by the belief that Christ’s shed blood paid the penalty of death we so deserved, we can be very different in the way we live our faith out.

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 I Corinthians 12:12-20 confirms this idea:

 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

We each have a part to play in the body of Christ, and He’s created each of us uniquely to fulfill the role He’s planned out for us.  So the next time you feel unworthy, inadequate, or that you just don’t have anything “special” to offer, remember that God created you to be you, and that He created you to fulfill your role and yours alone.

I know some of us overachievers like to think we can take on ALL of the roles, but that’s not God’s intention. 😉 His intention is for me to be the best Jen that I can be, not the best Suzy or Katherine, and the best Jen might look very different from the best Kelly or the best Michelle.

Now, isn’t that truth freeing?

Look for Part 2 of the Superwoman Myth here.

 

Jen 🙂

 

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