Archive for the ‘Perfection’ Category

Beautifully Broken

At the end of the sermon Sunday, a video was played showing several people engrossed in their electronic devices while life was going on around them. One of the images was a proposal taking place in front of a sunset.

For some reason the image reminded me of vacation.

Typically our family takes a beach vacation. I sit under an umbrella and read book after book for a week or more while the rest of the family scavenges for shells, shark’s teeth, sea glass, sand dollars, and various other treasures. Every so often I will join them in the water to cool down a bit, but I never stay too long for fear of burning.

Vacation is my chance to catch up on recreational reading that I don’t get to do much of during the rest of the year. Some years I have read as many as twenty novels while lying on the beach under an umbrella.

This year my teenagers started making comments about me reading months before we packed for our dream trip to Sanibel Island. They weren’t being mean, simply dreaming out loud what vacation would look like for all of us.

However, it kind of hurt my feelings that they were counting me out of their plans. They had already decided that I would sit in one spot, babysit our belongings, and read by myself while they did all the things we had been talking and dreaming about since they had been in elementary.

Not this year. I thought. This year I’m going to do everything everyone else does. I’m not going to be holder of the stuff. I’m not going to be the responsible one, the good behavior example. We only have a couple summer vacations left before they leave for college. Who knows if we’ll ever travel as a family again after that. I’m going to participate. Not watch.

When it came time to pack, I didn’t include any physical books. I didn’t download any e-books onto my Kindle. I didn’t even grab a magazine for the road. And I didn’t say a word about what I wasn’t doing to anyone else.

When we headed to the beach on day two, no one even packed chairs down the path. If mom wasn’t sitting in them, no one else would feel a need to go keep her company every so often.

All three members of my family had found extremely unique, amazing shells within a day or two of combing the beach. I spent pretty much the entire time on the beach searching for my something special, and hadn’t found anything worth showing off.

After being excited for one of their umpteenth awesome finds, I found myself sitting in the sand digging through an enormous pile of shells, frustrated, discouraged, disappointed, and just a wee bit jealous.

God, out of everything out here, I just want to find ONE special thing. I don’t need to find tons, but I’d like to take ONE thing home that I can say I found. One special shell that is whole. No missing pieces. No brokenness. One perfect, special shell just for me.

And when I looked back down at the pile of shells in front of me, all I saw was the same pile of shells that was there before I prayed.

It wasn’t long after that when I rose to take the daily sunset picture. Sunset on Bowman’s Beach was the daily highlight. We made sure we were present for God’s nightly light show. Every night was something different.

As I struggled to frame my shots of the sun melting into the ocean around all of the other attendees, I again became frustrated.

Just one perfect shot! If only those people would move! They are intruding on my view of your show, God.

It was in that moment I finally heard what God had been trying to say and my eyes filled with tears as I realized what I had been doing.

I wasn’t looking for special; I was looking for perfection. I was totally missing the special in my search for something that doesn’t exist outside of God.

Carrie, I created each of those people and each of those shells. They are all absolutely special and perfect. You’re looking at the wrong things. Of course they’re missing pieces, cracked, broken, and discolored. They’ve weathered the storms of life. Been battered by an uneven, rocky ground. They’ve been out their depths and totally washed up. And they are beautiful. Stop looking for perfection and see the beauty that is within each one.

Immediately I was humbled and had an entire new outlook on the images before me. Handcrafted by God. And He knew not only every individual chip, crack, broken piece, and hole, but He also knew the events that caused each imperfection to exist.

I wonder how often we get caught up in perfection that we miss the beauty God has placed right in front of our faces. See, I put down my electronic devices and books, and I still almost missed it. I spent most of my time searching for something that wasn’t even what God had prepared for me.

Has God placed any beautiful broken things in front of you this week? Are you trying to fix them or are you simple loving them as God’s creation?

This post was shared on:



The Deliberate Mom

Strangely, Perfect Marriage

Today during a conversation a comment was made that has caused me much thought.

“It’s hard for you to understand. You and Chris’ relationship is so different.”

I hear this statement with some frequency. Taken out of context it might sound like people think my husband and I have a strange relationship.

Shucks, taken in context it sounds that way!

And, to those who make the statement, it seems we do.

So, what do outside observers mean when they say this to me?

They mean I can’t offer them empathy in their relationship issues. They mean I don’t have wisdom to offer while dealing with struggles in marriage because I don’t have struggles. They mean from their vantage point my marriage is perfect.

And I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or pat myself on the back when they say these things!

Our marriage is far from perfect! (Shhhhhh! Don’t tell Chris I said that!)

What makes people think it is?

I don’t claim to know what people think, but I am willing to take a stab at why so many people make this statement to me.

1. Chris and I enjoy each others company and choose it over that of others.

While we may have outgrown the “dating” phase ages ago, we still invest in our marriage through time. We still make it a priority to be actively involved in what’s going on in each other’s worlds. Sometimes this means one of us gives a lot more than the other. It always means someone is giving up something else they’d enjoy doing. We understand that by choosing those “something else” activities over the other person we would be sacrificing our relationship.

2. We have learned that we don’t have to agree to get along.

For many years we joked after voting in political elections that we canceled each other out. We never discussed politics prior to polls or after other than to say, “Cancel me out again?” We can still be independent thinkers and be in love.

We have gotten to the stage now where we can discuss the “hot topics”, disagree vehemently, and walk away madly, passionately in love with no thoughts of the heated discussion in mind. Mental stimulation is great for a relationship!

3. We is always more important than me, and it goes both way. It’s not always about compromise. Well, last time you got your way so this time I get my way. No, it’s about what’s best for the family in this moment. It might mean that I always get my way or never get my way, but if it’s what’s best for the family then it is what’s best for me.

4. I’m going to say something that many of my reader’s won’t appreciate. When it comes down to it, I’m not going to be responsible for the final decision. Yes, that’s what I said. I’m not going to be responsible for the final decision.

Those of you who know me well are absolutely shocked. Yes, I’m loud, outspoken, and occasionally opinionated. 😉 That really doesn’t change in my marriage. I always speak my mind. However, when it comes down to making the final decision, I speak my mind, know he will listen to what I’ve said, and accept the decision he makes.

Often he asks me repeatedly what I think. I will continue to discuss my opinion. However, I don’t want responsibility for that final decision. Truth be told, I don’t think he does either, which is why we discuss A LOT.

So, for those of you that almost stopped reading when I said I don’t take responsibility for final decsions, I am NOT a door mat. Have never been a doormat. Will never be a doormat. I am still strong-willed, outspoken, opinionated Carrie.

5. We aren’t afraid to admit when we’re wrong, and it happens frequently.

Sometimes we even have to go as far as to apologize. Guess what? It isn’t always fun! Our marriage is NOT perfect! It takes work. We simply choose to go to work every day. We don’t take breaks. We don’t make excuses. We simply do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

6. We try not to take things too seriously. If it isn’t a life or death matter, then don’t make it into one.

When we were first married it seemed like any little thing could turn into a major blow up. It was always all or nothing. There were no in betweens.

Now, I know better. Some days are just bad days. Everything he does is going to drive me nuts. On those days it’s best I keep my mouth shut. Nothing I say is going to make the situation better. I will just be adding fuel to the fire if I complain. So, on those days I make the choice to steer clear, let the mood run it’s course, and hope if I did something to cause the situation he tells me so I can help fix the situation.

See, we aren’t perfect. I promise I drive him just as nuts as he drives me. Here’s why people don’t know that:

I don’t go around bad mouthing my husband no matter how angry I might be at the time.

Shocking, isn’t it?

How many of us have ever been annoyed by ourselves? Have you ever done something and been like, “Ugh! Why’d I do that?!?! What’s wrong with me?”

Or have you ever been angry with yourself? Straight up mad. Furious even.

I have. I’ve had plenty of negative thoughts toward myself. Many of them were rightfully earned.

Now, think of the one time you rightfully earned all of the bad things you’ve thought about yourself. Did you run to town and run yourself down to everyone you saw? Did you sit in the stands at the ball game and dish your dirt to everyone within hearing range? Why not?

I took my marriage vows seriously.

But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:6-9

If I’m not willing to go around bad-mouthing myself, then I’m not willing to go around bad-mouthing my spouse who is the same flesh. We are one. We are not separate. If I talk bad about him, I am talking bad about myself.

For my unmarried friends:

You know, you can’t choose your family, you are born into it. You can, however, choose your friends and your spouse. I have known many people who should not have married their spouse. Some have chosen to have children together despite their obvious incompatibility.

Not only have they made their own lives miserable, they are setting terrible examples for their children. Many of those unions have ended in divorce, and, while my opinion is not supported by many religions, many more of them SHOULD end in divorce to spare what is left of the sanity, emotional well-being, and overall health of all individuals involved.

Marriage should never be taken lightly. It isn’t a way out of a parent’s home. It isn’t a new adventure or experience. It isn’t the thing to do simply because all your friends are doing it.

Prayer is the prerequisite to a healthy marriage. Pray without ceasing that God will prepare your spouse in advance, protect your spouse for you, clearly direct your path to your spouse, and consecrate your relationship. A healthy marriage is not a relationship between two people, but between three. If you leave God out, your marriage is destined to be less than it could be.

Prayer is necessary to keep your marriage healthy. When you have struggles in your marriage, pray. When all is well in your marriage, pray. When you would rather walk away, pray. When you want to hide away with your spouse, pray. Pray with your spouse. Pray for your spouse. Pray to be a better spouse.

Invite God into your marriage. He won’t show up where He isn’t wanted. He won’t show up without an invitation. If you don’t ask, He won’t barge in.

My marriage is far from perfect. Truth be told, there are days I’d like to poke my husband’s eyes out! (How’s that for imagery?) And there are other days I just shake my head in absolute astonishment. (I can’t type that imagery…)

I take it as a compliment, however, that so many people see us and think that we have it all together. Our married life together has been one disaster after another. Literally. It seems as soon as we weather one storm, another is a brewin’. This past year has been no different, and yet in the midst of the storm someone has again brought to my attention how blessed I am because my marriage is so “different”.

photo credit: Fr”>”>Fr. Stephen, MSC via photopin”>photopin> cc”>cc>

Perfection or Bust

Keep on keeping’ on. That’s what I’m doing. Even when I want to quit, even when it seems pointless to go on, I’m going to keep on going.

It’s not always what I do. Sometimes when the going gets tough, I quit. I bench myself from the game. Have you ever done that? Taken yourself out of the game because things weren’t going the way you wanted them to?

Sometimes I say to myself, “It isn’t worth it. I’m obviously not up to the task, so I’m done.”

I find it funny that after I say that, after I bench myself, after I’ve washed my hands of whatever the situation was I rarely feel better, but usually will feel worse.

I don’t like to lose. I don’t like to play games for fun. I play to win, and typically only play if I’m fairly certain I have good odds of winning. I don’t put myself in situations where I know I’ll come out on bottom.

Fear of failure.

Yep. I’m absolutely positive my worth is judged by how successful I am. If I don’t do well, then I must be worthless.

These are the things my subconscious whispers to me. Perfection is all that’s acceptable, and if you fail, then you are worthless.

I remember as a child someone was always better than me at everything. It seemed as if I wasn’t gifted in any area…I wasn’t special.

I always seemed to earn decent grades, and it always irritated me beyond belief when another student would refer to me as a “smart kid”. I knew I wasn’t a smart kid.

B+? FAIL!!!

Smart kids didn’t miss anything on their assignments. I always missed something. I may have earned a 90% or more, but there was always someone else who had a higher score than me. I may not have been failing, but I definitely wasn’t good enough to be a smart kid.

A little over a year ago my husband met someone that I had taken a class in high school with…geometry to be exact. I can’t do geometry. Couldn’t then, can’t now. I don’t really like shapes and angles and measurements.

My husband gathered from the conversation that I was the reason this individual passed geometry. When he told me this I laughed. Straight up laughed.

“I was terrible at geometry! I doubt anyone got through that class because of me.”

I don’t remember what letter grade I had in that class, but honestly it is very unlikely that it was less than a B. It’s doubtful that I helped anyone ace geometry, but it is possible that I helped them pass.

See, being “good” at geometry would mean I had an A in the class, and no, an A- wouldn’t count. Anything less than that A is the equivalent of failure to me. So, in my mind, I failed geometry. I will forever be useless to anyone when it comes to geometry because in my mind I can’t do geometry. At all.

This is how I view the world. Success vs. failure.

The criteria for success? Perfection. The criteria for failure? Anything less than perfection.

I have set myself up for failure. Obviously I am never going to be perfect at everything I try. So, in order to keep from failing, I just don’t try anything a second time unless I was successful the first time.

Even if I have done something repeatedly with some degree of success, the first time I do it and it flops, well, I’m done.

I don’t hold others (all the time) to these same standards. It’s typically just myself. So, why?

November is a month of gratitude. Veteran’s Day. Thanksgiving. We celebrate the people and things we have to be thankful for.

I have been participating in a “thankful” a day post on facebook for the month of November. 2012 is not the first time of being grateful each day of the month for me. Forcing myself to stop and select at least one thing to be thankful for each day seems to remind me of just how much I have to be thankful for.

And guess what? None of it is perfect. Not one thing on my thankful list has been perfect. It’s all marred with imperfection, and yet I’m still thankful for it.

Is God any different? Does He expect me to be perfect?

No, He doesn’t. As a matter of fact, He knew I was imperfect before I even existed.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

That’s why He sent His Son, Jesus, to be the perfect sacrifice for me.

But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:11-14

Perfection on this earth only existed once. It won’t happen again.

God’s measure of perfection has nothing to do with success vs. failure as I see it. In God’s eyes we become ‘perfect’ when we enter in to a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.

God loves you and God loves me. How do I know?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Today I am thankful that God loves me just as I am. I don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be forgiven.

photo credit: acordova”>acordova> via photopin”>photopin> cc”>cc>