Monday, May 2, 2016

Say No: Handbags Are Heavy

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matt. 11: 28-30

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Full Handbags

Say no or your bag gets heavy
I've switched out my handbag. To do that, I had to say goodbye to my favorite wallet. Other essentials hit the trash bin. I'm carrying some in my hands because they don't fit. 

I had to. I can't say no, and my husband, Neil, doesn't like to carry things. 

Keys? In my bag.
His wallet? In my bag.
Phones? You've guessed it.

I quickly discovered, the bigger the bag, the bigger the burden. I had two choices--say no to Neil (but he's so sad, so pathetic when he pouts, that it's easier to say no to a crying infant than him) or get a smaller bag.

"Look, honey," I can now say with my sultriest smile, "it won't fit." 

That's our lives. If we don't say no--our baggage gets heavier. I'm sure you've heard the adage, "If you need something done, ask a busy woman." That female is the one who can't say no.

Need: a ride to the market? a Sunday school class taught? clean-up after fellowship meals? babysitting for the grandkids? chaperone for the third grade field trip? boy scout leader? volunteer for roadside cleanup? customer for the Pampered chef party? a visit to an invalid?

Which of the above is your gift? What do you feel led to do? Which resonates with you?

Say yes to that. No to the rest.

Not long ago, my daughter exploded (no, not literally, that would be gross). Some little thing unleashed the A-bomb in her--maybe the need to pick up bread for lunch? She does everything, especially when it comes to her kids. Sometimes everything becomes a bit too much.

I wonder where she learned it?

I've apologized to Sarah many times for teaching her the inability to say no.

Say no. When you do, you'll discover:
  1. God's burden is easy and light. How I used to hate that scripture. My life used to be frazzled with activities--most out of my realm of giftings.
  2. It's easy and fun to volunteer for those few sacrificial things we all need to do--like picking up roadside trash.
  3. We'll have time to use the gifts God's given us. I resigned from choir because I can't sing. Now I have time to get home and write.
  4. Another Hiroshima won't be unleashed. It's never fun being around a balloon that bursts--let alone the atomic bomb.
God always answers prayer. We've heard this adage, too. Sometimes yes, sometimes wait, and sometimes God says no.

If God can say no, why can't you?

What holds you back?

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Say No: There is NO Condemnation

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5: 37



By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Years ago I played by bassoon in Oklahoma. My main take-away was the song, "I Can't Say No".

Unlike Ado Annie, my fear of no isn't sexual--but it permeates every part of my life.

I love to please. Like most women, was born to please. 

I'd guess the same goes for you.

Reasons We Don't Say No
  • fear of rejection
  • fear of wounding others
  • fear we won't be womanly
  • fear of missing God's will
And it's the last item that I think we need to overcome the most. Sometimes, God's will is only accomplished by saying no.

No Can Be God's Will

Before I ever published a book, my good friend Linda Rondeau got me a novella deal. Her agent would represent me. I'd be one of three others in the collection centered around another author's completed novella.

It was my foot in the door to the world of my dreams.

To prepare, I:
  • researched--and had a ball doing so
  • plotted out the work
  • and woke up many a night in panic.
As the novella took shape, the publisher placed more stipulations on it. 

First it had to be historical--no problem. I set it for the Dutch Schutlz trial in Malone--a current passion of mine. 

Next, she wanted a romance--okay, not my favorite genre--maybe my least favorite, but my time period mitigated it, and my heroine intrigued me. 

Finally, an angel had to appear.

Deal breaker

No way could I work an angel in. Not my style, in a work already fast become not my thing.

I couldn't sleep. Couldn't eat. I thought of the Scripture to let my yeah be yeah and my no be no. And I'd already said yes.

But I had to be obedient to God once I heard him tell me to say no.

I called Linda and explained how I couldn't do this novella. To my glee, she was delighted. Linda, too, had misgivings but couldn't back out on me.

Restoration

My nights became restful, and my direction became clear.

Shortly after, I received my first contract from Desert Breeze Publishing. DWF: Divorced White Female came out the following year. A comedic women's fiction, where a ditched woman goes online to fine a man after her husband ditches her, characterized all I was as an author at the time.

No was God's direction. Matthew 5:37 tells us, no is part of God's will. We know in prayer, sometimes His answer is no. If God has no qualms saying no--neither should we.

Next week we'll explore how to follow in God's footsteps and say no.

Do you have problems with no? How do you overcome them? Do you wish to?

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Comparison: The Ruin of Joy

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Cor. 10:12

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

I sit in Salem, MA with the Boston Marathon in progress. Among the runners: a man who ran 120 marathons, a survivor of the 2013 Marathon Bombing, and a man with dwarfism who was spotlighted on The Today Show.

Me? I ran a measly four marathons and another is not in my future.

What do I lose with the attitude of my previous sentence? 

I ruin the joy of my successes.

He blessed me with good health and endurance and a gift of speed so that of the four marathons I ran, I took home a silver medal and a bronze. I still run, but am not willing to put in the hours and the pain it takes to compete in another marathon. Walking is good enough.

I ruin the joy of rejoicing in other's accomplishment.

However, more than the glory of the accomplishments I've made, I will lose the joy of rejoicing with those who are gifted beyond me.

The man with dwarfism is a good friend of my daughter's. She's currently tracking him, cheering as, briefly, he ran with the elite runners. (Yes, they lapped him, but still, John will finish in four hours--no small feat.)

Comparison Ruins Lives.
Which mask do you wish to wear?
I ruin inspiration.

The woman with the prosthetic leg inspires me to overcome my own inabilities. The joie de vivre of the runners make me want to do more than pick out my running clothes, but force me to put them on and hit the pavement.

I tell God He failed in my creation.

God fits us in the body as He desires. 1 Cor. 12:17 says we all can't have the same function--if we did, the body wouldn't function. He made me. I'm responsible for being the best I can be.

However, God doesn't expect me to be an elite runner or a master stained glass artist or an award winning author. He just expects me to use these gifts, to love working them and to live my life wholly and holy dedicated to him.

Do you lose your joy in comparisons?

Quick Tweets

Four things you ruin with comparisons. click to tweet

How to live your life wholly and holy dedicated to God. click to tweet

Lacking Joy? How to regain it. click to tweet

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mistakes: Make Them Good

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Rom. 8:1.


Mistakes. Ever make one?

Usually we don't like to admit it--especially publicly. But I have little pride.

Mistakes are good.

Last week began my crazy week. I taught at a woman's retreat, had approximately 3.5 tons of yard work to complete and then needed to prep for a Missions Retreat this weekend before I left for my daughters.

In that mess, a casual friend held the memorial service for her mother. Where could I fit that visitation into this schedule, especially as I live twenty-minutes from town.

Skip the pizza: serve the person.
I had the perfect solution. On my way home from the retreat, I stopped at a pizza parlor and put in my to-go order. I headed over to the calling hours.

Ordinarily, these gatherings have a long line of mourners, so I figured I'd take my place in line, offer condolences, spend ten-fifteen minutes and then take dinner home to hubby and collapse.

When I arrived, I was the only visitor. Of family, only four people beside my friend attended. My heart broke at the loneliness and isolation she must have felt. 

My friend showed me, with great pride, the few mementos she had of her mom. I watched the video and tried to keep straight the family members she pointed out.
Choose life

But my mind whirred.

I was exhausted. My pizza was cooling down the road. A twenty-minute ride loomed ahead of me. Yet, grief, loneliness and isolation wrapped themselves here in the church sanctuary.

After a half-hour, I allowed the evil trinity of my current life compel me out of the sanctuary. I picked up my dinner and headed home.

I was wrong.

A quick phone call to my husband would have allayed worries about my delay. The pizza had been paid for, and we had an oven to bake it in. I should have stayed.

Lessons of a Recovering Perfectionist
  • No condemnation. I felt bad, and I should have. Life and friendship is more than the busyness of our own selves. I needed to use this time to learn a lesson.
  • Mistakes teach us lessons. Do you think I'll ever let my life dictate my love for others again? Nope. I married a good man. My love for others outweighs my comfort--and people will take a higher priority in my life until I get it right.
  • Perfection comes only though Jesus. I goofed. But when the missions conference rolled around, we had an extra room. My closest friend who organized the trip for our church asked me if this woman whose mother had passed should be invited. With glee I nearly leaped up and down. My answer, "Yes, yes, yes." And we were able to bless my friend. I grew to know her more. 

Quick Tweet


How have mistakes made you more Christlike?



Monday, April 4, 2016

You Can Make Mistakes

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Rom. 8: 28

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. Ps. 145:14

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

You Can Make Mistakes
And Still Be Right With God
My family celebrated my eighth birthday party in my backyard. Indulging in cake and ice cream, I didn't notice my father had disappeared until he suddenly came riding a two wheeler into our midst. Decked with a bow and ribbons, this was MINE.

And once everyone had left, he took me to the road, held the back of my seat and ran me down the street.

It was love at first ride.

For my father, not so much. I couldn't convince him to help me after that first time. So I faced a decision. Sit around and admire my two-wheeler, or learn to ride. I chose the latter (and have the scars to prove it).

Sidling the bike to the curb, I aligned the peddles climbed on and went a few feet. I repeated the process and made it a couple of yards. Eventually, I rode to my neighbors.

Through the process, I learned what didn't help my balance and what did, how to best mount the bike and how to fly faster than I could have imagined.

I learned because I refused to fear making a mistake and failing.

Sadly, too many people worry too much about erring. They fear looking foolish. Believing God will not overlook  a misstep, people refuse to take the first step.

Mistakes are not sin.

Mistakes:

  • Are done in innocence
  • Lead to growth
Sins:

  • We do it deliberately, even though we know better
  • Comes from rebellion
  • Lead to decay
I'm not talking about accidentally falling in love with a coworker or gossiping and discovering the juicy tidbit you share was false.

However, don't let your fear of making a mistake paralyze you. Try volunteering for nursery. If it doesn't work out, don't feel obligated to spend the rest of your life changing diapers.

Sing in the choir. If you discover you miss the freedom of unobserved worship, step down.

Lend a hand with vacation Bible school, become a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. Learn the flute. Take up forestry.

What doesn't work out will add a stepping stone to the exact spot God wants you to serve in.

Remember the three men given the talents?
Who was the only one reprimanded?
What's holding you back?

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Perfectionism: Personal Triggers

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

It's funny, for years, 1 John 4:18 drove me nuts. I feared--ergo, I was not perfect. If I wasn't perfect, I wasn't accepted by Christ. I was being punished.

Lies.

Driven by insecurity, my quest for perfection began in childhood. I wanted, always, to be like everyone else. However, as an artist and a writer, I never was.

Furthermore, I seemed a bit dense in social cues. If a friend overlooked me, it was obviously because they did not like me. I'd never say, "Hey, I'd like to go to the party, movie, skating rink..." Nope. Not me.

Even in flirting, I never figured it out.
Think CHAP for causes of perctionism

Since I was an obvious failure...I had to perfect myself.

Since I feared, I obviously wasn't perfect.

Sheesh. You never fell for this merry-go-round thinking, did you?

This brings me to reason number four in developing our erroneous quest for perfectionism. And it is...


First a recap of causes for perfectionism:

  1. Painful Childhood experiences
  2. Heart issues
  3. Legalistic Authority figures
What from your past triggers your legalism?
4. Personal Triggers

I've not entirely figured out social clues, but a few things help me overcome my personal triggers.

I know people love me (how could they not?). I've also come to understand human shortcomings. In our earthly bodies, scars and fears and experiences have marred us. Thus, I make sure friends know I'm available. I reach out. I don't take a one or two time nonavailability as a categorical rejection of me.

For, the need for acceptance is a personal trigger.

For someone else, it could be a desire for love, a quest to be holy, a misapplied ideal, ambition.

For you? Do you struggle with a personal trigger that sends you spiraling up the ladder of perfectionism? 

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Perfectionism: Cause #3--Childhood Experiences

"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it" Proverbs 22:6

English: perfectionist measuring and cutting grass
English: perfectionist measuring and
cutting grass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm not this bad. Maybe my husband is?

Causes


So far we've learn perfection comes from:

  • The heart. Pride convinces us we have to be perfect
  • Legalistic Leaders. Some leaders or bosses always find fault because you don't measure up

Childhood Experiences

The third cause:

  • Childhood experiences
And these can run the gamut: our parents were successful or they praised us too much or they praised us too little or we didn't fit in as children.

Little my parents did instilled this in me. In that manner, my childhood was blessed.

However, I'm an artist, and I do not see the world in the typical manner. I'll look at a tree stump and see a mermaid. I hear a song and am plunged into a fantasy world where I'm Maid Marion saving Robin Hood.

By nature, I'm caring, frugal, helpful, and loyal. Therefore, people's attitudes and opinions were paramount.

The two elements of my nature combat each other: in trying to be like others, my basic strengths compelled me to be different.

Childhood Causes of Perfectionism

  • Parents too successful
  • Parents too unsuccessful
  • You were too doted upon
  • You were abused
Believing God's word begins the cure

The Cure

"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" Rom. 5:8. Click to tweet


"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" Rom. 8:37-39.

Come to the realization that Jesus loves us just the way we are.

Have you struggled with childhood issues that push you into perfectionism?

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Perfectionism formed in #childhood can be cured.
Discover the source of perfectionism.