When You Realize How Small Baby Steps Are

Taking Baby Steps Toward a Big Goal

So you set a goal. You knew it was big, that it would take a lot of hard work and perseverance. Maybe it would even take a long time to get there. You knew that going in.

So you jumped right in, giving it your all, doing your very best. Working hard, praying hard. Getting accountability and support where you could find it. Trying new things so this time would be different.

And for a while, you were making progress. Little by little, you began inching toward that goal. This isn’t going to be so hard, you thought. I can DO this thing! you shouted.

You were psyched, pumped up, ready to take on the world!

And then . . . something changed.

Maybe you slipped up, made a misstep or miscalculation. Maybe you just got tired. Or maybe you kept doing all those same awesome things but, for some reason, that goal of your stopped getting closer. Maybe it even moved a little bit in the opposite direction.

And that’s when it hit you: Taking baby steps toward a big goal takes a REALLY LONG TIME.

Today I weighed in at Weight Watchers and despite choosing SALAD on date night (at a Mexican restaurant, my favorite!) and VEGGIES at small group (when someone had brought warm chocolate chip cookies, are you kidding me?) — I had not lost a single ounce.

I also hadn’t gained an ounce. And making those choices felt really good. So, there they are: BABY STEPS.

But I don’t want to take baby steps! When reaching my goal weight is already going to take at least a year, I don’t want to spend a single week spinning my wheels. But I know my goal is more than a number on a scale. It’s new habits and tastes and cravings and all the good choices outweighing (ugh. no pun intended.) the not-so-good ones.

So, baby steps it is.

Some of you have shared that you’re on the same weight-loss or health-related journey I am. But many of you are on completely different journeys, taking tiny steps toward different goals. Tiny, determined, strong, motivated, AMAZING steps toward important goals like…

…writing that book.
…starting that business.
…running that marathon.
…planning those meals.
…cleaning that house.
…raising those kids.
…building that orphanage.
…adopting that child.
…helping those people.
…making that difference.

If it seems like you’ll never get there, like any progress you make is occurring at a glacial pace, take heart. You can DO this thing! You can! WE can. It might take longer than you’d like, but keep at it. We can do it together.

Adrienne has been taking her first solo steps the past couple of weeks. Everything about it is SLOW.

Her decision to finally start walking? Slow. (Why bother walking when it’s hard and, HELLO!, she can crawl crazy fast?!?)

Her steps while holding my finger in a death grip? So slow.

Her progress from walking-with-help to walking-on-her-own? So stinking slow!

But she’ll get there. She is so very busy (too busy to learn to walk, apparently) and climbs like a monkey. Obviously walking is not far behind. It’s just going to take longer than I’d like – and probably longer than she’d like, too. After all, she’s a busy baby. She does not have TIME for this! She’ll walk, though – and then run and then run me ragged. But that’s another post.

Those goals we’ve set? We can meet them. We can do it. One little step at a time. (Baby steps work for me.)

What are you taking small steps toward?

Photo source

Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

When You Feel Overlooked or Forgotten

When You Feel Overlooked

My neighborhood is bursting with color right now. Our next door neighbor has a gorgeous dogwood tree full of pink and white flowers, one that delights me each spring with its blossoms (and disappoints me when they inevitably fall to the ground). The rose bush outside Adrienne’s bedroom window has tiny buds and shoots all over its branches, and barrels of tulips and daffodils can be seen on front porches up and down the street.

As winter has begun fading away, I’ve started wishing I knew more about plants. The beautiful, often unruly yellow flowering bushes I love so much are called forsythia – but I only know that after some serious googling. And I can identify those tulips and daffodils like a pro, but the other blooming plants around here are a mystery.

It doesn’t take a green thumb to appreciate God’s artwork, though. Broad strokes of fuschia and fuzzy dots of white against dark branches reaching toward the turquoise sky line the roads we take to Annalyn’s school each morning. On our short commute I point out to Annalyn my favorite blossoms and blooms, and we’ve had friendly debates about the prettiest ones.

But a few days ago, my little drama queen got herself all worked up because all the lovely plants we’ve been admiring are situated firmly in other people’s yards. “I wish WE had a pretty tree! It’s not fair! It’s like . . . like . . . we were SKIPPED!”

I laughed at her melodrama, but the truth is I’ve felt like that, too.

Many times I’ve looked around and noticed the blooms in other people’s yards and wondered, “When is going to be my turn? Why don’t I have any flowers? God? Did you . . . did you . . . skip me?”

Maybe you’ve felt that way, too?

When you’re waiting for a promotion or a second interview, when you’re praying for a baby or a spouse, when you’re hoping that this showing, this conversation, this application or this audition will be the one.

Maybe you’ve looked around at your neighborhood, your family or your small group, your classmates or your co-workers, your book club or your aerobics class or your ministry team – and wondered, “Am I the only one left? Will it ever be my turn? . . . Why does everyone else get [fill in the blank] except me?”

I don’t know what you’re waiting for today. What dreams seem to come true for everyone else for you, what hopes are harder to hold onto every day that passes. I don’t know exactly how it feels for you to wonder if you’ve been overlooked, forgotten, skipped.

But I do know this: God has not forgotten you, and He will not skip you.

The Bible says God has written your name on the palms of His hands, that He would never forget you. Jesus said, “What is the price of five sparrows — two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

And well before that, Moses told the people of Israel that God will not leave nor forsake you, that He won’t fail or abandon you. In other words? He won’t skip you.

I don’t say that in the hang in there, kitten poster sort of way. And I don’t say that in a comfortable, all my dreams have come true way.

I say this with the hard-won confidence and faith of someone who has been left behind and felt overlooked, someone who has felt hope slipping out of her fingers more than once, someone who will certainly feel that way again. But I’m also someone who has been surprised to find a previously plain [metaphorical] plant blossoming in her front yard.

If you’re feeling overlooked today, like you’ve been skipped when the blossoms or blessings were handed out, don’t lose hope. Your wait may be longer, your path may be curvier, but He has not forgotten you.

He has not skipped you or overlooked you.

Your spring is coming.

A Time for Grace and Starting Fresh

A Time for Grace and Starting Fresh

It makes sense that we celebrate Easter in spring. Even more than New Year’s Day, this is the time of year that’s full of fresh starts and new possibilities.

Today, the day after we remember that the tomb is empty, that He is risen, that we have been saved by God’s all-encompassing, incomprehensible love, is the perfect time for starting over.

Of course, though the timing makes post-Easter spring ripe for change, for growth, for hope, actually taking those steps can be a little harder. Monday mornings don’t necessarily feel as warm and fuzzy as Sunday mornings, do they?

But the Bible reminds us that, even after the pastel glow of Easter has faded, the Lord has an abundance of mercy for us – and those mercies are new every single morning. I wrote about how He’s been teaching me about that kind of grace lately at Mothers of Daughters.

[I should tell you, though, that the entire time I was writing it I was thinking of this commercial from Walmart. I guess in my pop culture-soaked brain, it’s not a big jump from “grace for everyone!” to “gigs all around!”]

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Months ago, as my husband and I talked AGAIN about our older daughter’s behavior, I confessed something I’d realized about the situation. “I can’t start fresh,” I whispered. “My frustrations just keep building and building, and there’s no break, no relief, no blank slate.”

The conversations about our daughter’s disobedience and disrespect had begun bringing other issues to the table – namely, our tempers. We realized that our short fuses were contributing to the problem, but we didn’t know how to fix it. And I knew that this fresh start thing was part of it.

Without a fresh start, there’s no forgiveness. I couldn’t find my way out of the garbage heap of anger. I couldn’t see the light of grace.

To read about what’s given us all a lot more fresh starts,
join me at Mothers of Daughters.

When Your “Best Of” List Comes Up Empty

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This post was originally published on incourage.me in 2013.

I love lists. I really do. As a matter of fact, I’m itching to make a grocery list right now. Then I want to make another to-do list, because the one I wrote two days ago is missing several things – some I’ve already done, but writing them down just to cross them off makes sense to me.

So when the end of the year rolls around and every media outlet in the world begins compiling year-end and best-of lists, I am in my nerdy, happy place. Two years ago I took the opportunity of this trend to share some of my own best-of lists, sharing the best blog posts I’d read that year, the best blog posts I’d written (in my humble opinion, of course) that year, my favorite recipes from the year, and [of course] my favorite TV shows and movies from the year.

It was fun and I assumed I’d make it an annual practice. But some years don’t have much in the “best of” category.

In the past few weeks I’ve shared my thoughts about how, sometimes, the holidays aren’t the most wonderful time of the year. I’ve talked about giving up on holiday bucket lists, how to cope when the holidays make you sad, and the cure for feeling like this year just doesn’t feel like Christmas.

These thoughts have been heavy on my mind and heart not because 2013 was rough. Even though I [temporarily] felt like running away, was fairly certain I was drowningliterally at times, and faced more than one decision where the right choice didn’t feel good, all of those challenges were temporary and ended in so much gratitude and growth that I can’t possibly complain.

I could easily come up with a few “best of” lists for 2013 – and I might still do that.

But last year? Last year was hard in ways I never could have imagined and do not ever want to relive. As I crawled to the finish line last December, the only thing I was truly thankful for was the end of that season. I couldn’t look back, I didn’t feel like reflecting, and even if pressed I might not have come up with a single “best” for the entire previous 12 months.

In one year my brother-in-law had died in a motorcycle accident, my husband and I had spent months in counseling fighting for our marriage, and my daughter had exhibited horrible behavior issues that we simply didn’t know how to deal with. Looking at that little list in black and white, a year removed, it doesn’t seem all that bad. BUT OH, IT WAS.

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So what do we do when our year’s best-of list comes up empty?

1. Start by keeping it in perspective. This season won’t last forever. The calendar – and the cycle of life’s ups and downs – will turn over eventually. His mercies truly ARE fresh every morning, every New Year’s Day, every time we turn to Him.

2. Count your blessings – small as they may be. Keeping a gratitude journal or listing your 1000 gifts may seem insincere or even impossible during difficult times. But I truly believe God takes our tiny offerings of gratitude and increases them until our hearts are softened and our perspectives are changed in a way we simply can’t do with closed hands.

3. Give yourself permission to grieve. Some things are really, really hard to live through. Some challenges seem never-ending or unfair or Just Too Much. It’s okay to feel that sadness. God is close to the brokenhearted – which means He knows full and well that we will have times of grief where this life is too much to bear. Lean into it for a time, and lean into Him. It’s okay to be sad for a while; He can take it better than we can when we try to hold it in and carry it alone.

4. Cling to hope and look forward to next year. Even if you can’t celebrate the holidays with the spirit you normally do . . . even if Christmas carols and trees full of ornaments and the perfect gift beautifully wrapped simply remind you of what you’re missing this year . . . even if your only resolution for next year is to have a better year because this one stunk . . . remember Hope. The world was dark when Jesus came that first Christmas – just like it may be dark this Christmas. He came to offer hope, because He IS Hope. So even when the holidays are hard, remember you have Hope.

Those are the things I wish I’d known to do a year ago. Because sure enough, this calendar year did bring a fresh outlook and a renewed heart. I know difficult years will happen again, but this most recent season has been one full of blessings both small and large. And receiving that after a time full of so much pain makes this year’s best-of list even sweeter. I’m thankful, both for the relief from last year’s challenges and the reminder that when hard times come again [because they will], they won’t last forever.

If nothing else, THAT is something to put on a best-of list!

What would you put on a Best of This Year list?

{Photos by Pink Sherbet Photography and Dawn Camp}

For unto us a child is born…

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For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas, friends!