“Oh my word.” I say this all the time when dramatically expressing how I currently feel about what is happening around me. Most recently, I have been saying it repeatedly to myself as I have been trying quite unsuccessfully to maintain discipline and sanity during one of the busiest months I have experienced. Some crazy person coined a phrase relatively recently called “Failing Forward.” It is supposedly a realized forward progress after each failed attempt. It sounds noble, of course, but sometimes the “forward” part seems nonexistent and just feels like failing and falling - again. For example,
Tonight I will go to bed on time. Two hours later: still on FaceBook
I will not yell at the kids anymore. Five minutes later . . .
Only one more episode of the latest, greatest series on Netflix. Six episodes later: only one more episode . . .
I will eat better tomorrow. Tomorrow: Sure, I will go out for ice cream.
We are not going to overschedule our lives anymore. Three seconds later . . .
I am going to keep the table cleaned off. Two days later I have to push the piles aside just so I can eat at the table.
Oh. My. Word.
As I lean on scripture to find wisdom and hope, there is a passage I have been thinking about almost as much as I have been speaking that favorite phrase. It is found in Romans 7 and reads like this:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. . . For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:15-16, 18.
This is me every day, but these words were originally spoken by the Apostle Paul, who I would refer to as a Super Christian. If he struggled that much, maybe I just need to chill. I do no good when I live defeated because I am not good enough (in whose eyes, by the way? Mostly in my own alone). The truth is, according to Psalm 139:14, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and God has created me for a purpose. I lose sense of that purpose when I get stuck on how I do not measure up or the number of times I continue to fail and fall short.
The same goes for you. You are not a failure. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and you were created for a purpose. Failing at something does not make you a failure. It could mean you need to work harder next time. Or it could mean you are not doing what you are called to do. We all think we “should” be a certain way, but sometimes what we are striving so hard for would be like a cow trying to climb a tree because the monkey is good at it. We know that is ridiculous, but we still do similar things. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. As you. Uniquely you. Different from everyone else who has ever lived. Rather than beat yourself up over what you are not, try these things:
1. Persevere in changing bad habits, but never consider yourself a failure – just get back up and try again, without shaming yourself. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). And while you are at it, remove the word “should” from your vocabulary. It is nothing more than a shaming word.
2. Consider whether what you are striving for is how you were wired to shine or whether you are borrowing others’ strengths and trying to make them your own. Rather than focusing on removing your weaknesses, it is better to grow in your strengths. Stop focusing on what you are not good at, and focus on what you are good at (some people were born to have spotless houses, others were not – be okay with that).
3. Remember who you are. The God of the universe created you for a purpose. Not only that, He created you wonderfully. Repeat that to yourself. He did not create a failure. He created a person who messes up sometimes – or a lot, but He did not create a failure.
4. Give yourself grace.
Life is too short to spend our time focusing on how we do not measure up. Know that you are loved and that you are good enough. Still need reminding? You can always buy the shirt!
Summer is quickly approaching. At every life transition, we have an opportunity that we admittedly often miss. We are notorious for not taking the time to be intentional about how we would like the next season to look, whether it is an actual season like summer or a life season like raising teenagers or empty nesting. Most of us know the saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” but how often do we still have the best intentions to live fully in a season and then get to the end and realize we missed the mark?
This is not meant to be a guilt or regret-inducing post. Do not dwell on the past – we cannot change it. Drop the “I wish I would haves” and look forward to the next season and what can be done better. This post is also not meant to encourage you to plan every second of your summer or life with activity. As summer approaches, sit down and consider how you would like things to look. And if you really want to do these things, write them down and hang them on the refrigerator.
Where would you like to go?
· A bucket list international vacation
· Getaway with your girlfriends
· A road trip out West to visit national parks
· A nearby state park you always say you want to get to
· More family trips to the cabin
· More alone trips to the cabin
· Tent camping with the kids (some of you just said, “I would rather have my teeth pulled.” Do not stop reading this post and decide it is not for you – just move along to the next section!)
Who would you like to see?
· Grandparents, parents
· Aunts, uncles, cousins
· High school or college friends
· Someone you know who is sick or dying. It does not feel good to go to a funeral and have someone say, “David would have loved to see you.” Knife in the heart. Go if you can.
What would you like to do?
· Go to a concert
· Declutter the house
· Have a garage sale (some of you had a similar reaction to the camping one – just move along)
· Participate in church services
· Learn a new skill
· Have a cookout for the neighbors
· Attend a community festival
· Bike a new trail
· Help an elderly neighbor
· Be a tourist in your own community
If you have children, what can they do? (Some of these are great ideas for us to do as well).
· Do daily jobs (really, they can)
· Limit technology use (they will survive)
· Spend time outside every day being active
· Practice instruments, read, practice sports skills
· Limit technology use (oops, did we say that twice? It is that important!)
· Volunteer at a local homeless shelter, food shelf, or humane society
The options are endless. Endless. As you plan and consider, avoid the temptation to overschedule. Keep some (or a lot of) days, evenings, and weekends open to be spontaneous or enjoy dinner out at a patio restaurant or have a movie night with loved ones. When you get to the end of the summer, you are not allowed to feel any guilt or shame at what you did not accomplish. Instead, it is our hope that you finish summer feeling great joy over what you did and ready to take on the next season.
We also hope you get to the end of summer feeling refreshed and renewed, and as our mission states, that you can “laugh without fear of the future.” Be so blessed.
Arabella Boutique has this cute inspirational tee with only one word on it, but that one word encompasses a magnitude of deep meaning. The sole word on this soft, comfy shirt is “Happy.”
According to Webster’s Online Dictionary, the definition of happiness is “enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment.” Well-being and contentment. If we stop and think about those two words for a couple minutes, our heart rate may just slow and we may start taking some deep breaths. But then, our thoughts may turn to the opposite of those things: rat race, a frenetic pace, and the world pressing in.
Oh how we love to be busy! We complain (brag?) about how many things we can accomplish in one day, how many activities our kids participate in, how little sleep we get, and how many hours we work. The more we can fit into our schedules, the more successful we feel or we think people see us. It is the American way.
But what if instead of measuring our success by our schedule, we measured it by our level of happiness? Sure, we all know some super busy, always-seemingly-happy people. But by and large, we often sacrifice our happiness to attain things we think are important, or we get stuck in a rut of overcommitment and cannot figure out how to get off the crazy train.
How often do we pause to consider whether the things we are doing are bringing us to a greater place of contentment and well-being or whether they are sucking the life right out of us and leaving us unhappy in the process?
There is a perfect verse nestled in the middle of the Bible in the book of Psalms. It contains only eight words that, when strung together, form an impactful statement with the answer to our questions about how to achieve peace and contentment and ultimately be happy: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
This is the message we need to hear today.
We can rest in Him and find peace and happiness – even if we have a hundred things to do. In our stillness, we can assess our lives to see if we are mindlessly striving, and we can be intentional about finding well-being and contentment there at the feet of God.
At Arabella, we recognize the conflict of doing what everyone else is doing in their busyness and striving for something different. We celebrate all your successes, AND we recognize your need to be still and refresh. Take some time over the next few days and make yourself sit for a period of time or go for a slow walk in the beauty of the outdoors. “Be still and know that I am God.” Soak in His presence, and you will find well-being and contentment. You will find your “happy.” Then take a deep breath and order your favorite outfit from Arabella!
 https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/happy, Accessed April 30, 2018.
Heather Schmidt and Jodie Schmidt.