Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fellow Fliers


Lately I feel like my blog is all over the place ~

One day it's featuring my home state of South Dakota


Then it's my kids.

And then I will take a dive into the depths of my spiritual life.

And I wonder . . . is this too much?

Too many things?  Too much variety?



But . . . I remember this:

this is real,

this is me.

This is the reality of the multifacted life that we all live.



All these parts of us, circumstances, relationships . . .

"Cohesive randomness" I'll call it.

Cohesive because the randomness is all wrapped up in one body, mind & spirit.

Yesterday, Syd, my 8 year old, asked me if your "Senior Year"

is the best year of your life.

So we had a little conversation about how every year

is salt and peppered

with excitement and milestones,

heartbreaks and tragedy,

mundane doldrums,

joy and laughter.

All of it, each year.  Some are better than others.

But they all have a little of everything.

Just like us.

So . . . my blog will remain

some days deeply spiritual,

some days a mother showing off her kids,

some days capturing the beauty right here right now in photography,

some days sharing a fun art project,

some days sharing whatever I may be working through.

Yet...it will always be me ~ cohesive and random.

copyright 2010 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw

Friday, July 30, 2010

Why Butterflies are Such a Big Deal To Me

Butterflies.

Lots of people love them.

I have always been fond of them.

Always thought they were pretty.

But I want to share my story . . . a little glimpse into it . . .

of why I adore butterflies.

Of why they hold special meaning to me now and always.

"Behold, I make all things new." Revelation 21:5

October 5, 2008 ~ My Baptism


A day shared with my son & brother in law and Pastor.

Along with those who watched from the bank.

This is the story that I shared . . . my story.

I remember specifically a day in Sunday School when Wyatt was talking about Romans 12:2: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God," and he said that transformation was better translated "metamorphosis".  Before this, when I read that verse, I saw proving the good, acceptable, perfect will of God as an huge, burdensome responsibility and that I needed to try harder at renewing my mind.  But there was something about this "metamorphosis" that was different . . .

I had also been wondering what the point of baptism was.  I mean, if I had received salvation by asking God to forgive my sins, and believing in Jesus Christ as His Son, in His death and resurrection and believing that was for me, and receiving Him as a gift.  If I had done that, received Christ as my Savior, why did I need to make a "public" statement of baptism?  I don't need to prove this salvation to anyone else, do I?  It is just between God and me, right?  So, why baptism?

This is why.  The metamorphosis.  The symbol.
I was CHANGED.  I was DIFFERENT.
There was a point of change in there
where I let go of myself
AND IT FELT INCREDIBLE!  AWESOME!
Like seeing for the first time!
My baptism is a reminder, a point to mark a time, a symbol of a turning point of transformation. 
Baptism in some way unites me with Christ. 
In this symbol a unity is marked.
In this symbol, that I personally chose to do, a process is marked.
A process like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
The life is still the same root ~ but very different.

Now . . . I do not know how, but I got this glimpse, this vision of really seeing that this is what happened for me and what can happen for each one. 
I did not "get it" . . . until I "got it". 
And I did not get it by trying to get it . . . I just "got it" . . . in my mind. 
Make sense? 
Or thoroughly confusing? 

This is what I "got":  the "old Jodi" was crucified with Christ.  The "old caterpillar Jodi" hung on the cross and died on that cross.  As I am baptized, as I go under the water, it is a symbol of dying and being buried.  And then the exciting part is that not only, am I united with Christ in His death and burial, but also in His resurrection.  I have His new life!  So now, the "new butterfly Jodi" is resurrected in Christ, in His righteousness, and now I have the honor of walking and living and flying in newness of life!  I am free from the "old me".  The "new Jodi" is raised to life and dies no more.  Life now reigns, it rules, in the new me.  I have been brought back to life.  I was dead in my heart, but now my heart is alive.  And it is an abundant, rich, vibrant life filled with meaning and significance and beauty right here, right now.  My eternal life starts now, not when my body dies.

In Trina Paulus' book Hope for the Flowers, she tells a precious story of two caterpillars who are trying to find "life".  I think this quote really describes what happened in me with this "baptism" thing. 

"Yellow came upon a gray-haired caterpillar who told her about becoming a butterfly. 
'But how do you become one?' she asked.
'You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar,' he said.
'You mean to die?' asked Yellow.
'Yes and no,' he answered. 'What looks like you will die but what's really you will still live."

That, to me, is the best description that helps me understand this quote from Jesus in Matthew 10:39 . . .
"He who loses his life for My sake will find it." 

I give up my caterpillar life and get a butterfly life instead.

How do I know all that about old Jodi on the cross, dying, buried, resurrected? 
Well, it does say it in the Bible.  And I had read it in the Bible in Romans 6. 
But somehow I felt it.  I understood it.  I knew it was me personally.  And I "got" it.
It is like when a kid "gets" riding a bike. 
That sense of balance just happens.


I am a new creation.  Just like the butterfly did not recreate itself, I did not recreate myself.  The Lord is the one who does the work.  I do have to give Him my life, but then He changes me.  And He did.  As I present myself to Him, He does the transforming work in me.  He has done it, is doing it, and will contine to do it.  And so my life proves His will because of the work He has done in me not that I did myself.  And the difference in me is as dramatic as the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to the butterfly. 

I, like the caterpillar, used to attempt to feed my spirit with the leaves of self-sufficiency, pursuit of money, perfection, performance, titles, status, recognition, approval of people, position and image. This was as an adult and as a believer in Jesus Christ.  Trying to "feed" my spirit's hunger this way was depressing and empty.  I believed that I had received Christ's gift of eternal life in heaven after I died.  Along with that I believed that in this life on earth, everything was completely on my shoulders.  That his gift was for after I died, not while I lived.  That while I lived it would be an unending life of enduring burden after mundane burden that I had to carry alone to prove that I was living God's will.  I still had my own performance in a higher position in my mind that God.  I still relied on myself supremely, not Him.

I thought one of the answers was to just "believe in myself" more.  "Believe in yourself."  That is popular and seemingly noble idea.  Very prevalent, accepted, encouraged and marketed to our culture.  I remember specifically a day that I collapsed on my bed in tears and cried out in anger and bitterness, "I don't believe in myself anymore!"  And it was in that moment that I heard a gentle, calm, loving, strong and firm voice say in my mind, "Then don't.  Believe in Me instead."  Instantly, I was relieved.  Instantly a weight came off of my shoulders, heart and mind.  Instantly I knew that there was someone bigger than me, better than me--that I could believe in when I failed.  There was and would be a hand holding me and picking me back up when I fell on my face.  It is what it means to be steadfast in the Lord...to be held up, held together, propped up...by God's hands.  I thought steadfast in the Lord meant that I was steady and I was fast.  But He is the steady and the quick when I am not.

Somewhere in that time, I began a "cocoon" stage of life.  It is not a place that shows much activity, results, beauty.  Not a place I was comfortable going at first.  I had been in a mode of believing that I always had to be showing results, always a harvest, always fruit. . . .always coming up short in that.  Always feeling I was never enough.  That was my mindset entering the cocoon stage.  But the cocoon is a place of deep dramatic transformation.  Again, in Hope For the Flowers, Trina Paulus writes, "I'm making a cocoon.  It looks like I'm hiding, I know, but a cocoon is no escape.  It's an in-between house where the changing takes place...During the change, it will seem...that nothing is happening, but the butterfly is already becoming.  It just takes time." 

I entered a time of waiting.  Another quote from Trina Paulus is this, "Somehow, waiting and not being sure was better than action she couldn't believe in."  Waiting has been hard.  But I knew I needed to change action.  So in the waiting, as my heart and mind changed,
I began to discover action that I could believe in again. 

Coming out of the cocoon, a changed life, there is much that is new.  My belief in myself has returned.  Because I believe in the One who not only created me, but transformed me.  I really do.  More and more.  I accept that what He creates is good and valuable.  That His masterpieces are created with intention, uniqueness, distinction, and good purpose.  So therefore, I can believe in that.  I can believe in someone bigger and better than me because I am still going to fall down, still going to slip, still going to fail.  I can believe that even though I fail, I am continually renewed and transformed.  A work in progress.  He calls it changing me from glory to glory, rather than failure to failure.  His way sounds much better.  He changes me to become more of His reflection all throughout my life.  So humbling.  I get to reflect Him.  Truly an honor.

Like a butterfly, I have new things that I feed my spirit on.  Sweet nectar of His word, His voice, His Truth, His Presence.  That sustains me for the other areas of my life....increases my love for my husband, kids, family, friends, community, world.  It's in that that my spirit has a fire to pass this on to others!

Wow ~ does that make ANY sense?  Well, I know that some of it does not.  Just like the cocoon is in the dark and we cannot see the process that goes on in there.  The transformation in my life is really an unseen, unknown process.  And really, that is part of the mystery.  If I could explain all of this perfectly in a formula of "do this, do that" and you will be transformed by God, if I could do that, well, there would be no need for Him, and there would be no mystery and with no mystery, there is no awe.  When we KNOW everything, that is knowledge, not faith.  And He does say that without faith, it is impossible to please Him.
Mystery.  Awe.  Faith.

Now I have new actions that I believe in. 
New work He is preparing in my heart for me to do! 
A new mode of transportation. 
No longer creeping along the ground in old ways and old actions. 
It is here that I am beginning
to take flight.

My man Jim and me.
A few of my "faith friends".
{There are many more not pictured!}
October 5, 2008.

For more understanding and exploration,
see these verses: 
Romans chapter 6, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 2:10,
Romans 12:1-2, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3-26-27, Ephesians 4:17-24, Titus 3:4-5.

Words~text copyright 2008.  Revised 2010.  Jodene (Jodi) Shaw.
Quotes from Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus. 
Buy it here: Hope For The Flowers by Trina Paulus

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Standing on the Edge of Me

It is Day 3 of Leslie's 31 Day Creativity Challenge
over at her {Words of Me Project} blog.

She asked us to think of 3 words that mean the most to us right now.
Here are mine:
authentic
truth
intended
*
And maybe I'm cheating a bit here,

but instead of creating a new piece of work today,

I'm stealing a page from my scrapbook dated March 2009.

It was in the midst of this "new thing" happening in my life...

I kept thinking I was at the brink. . .

Only to find that each day is a new brink.

But this page displays all that was and has been churning within me.

And I have an idea.

Today.

I have an idea that I am super exited to announce.

Of all this coming together.

Of that picture of all those paths in yesterdays post from my journal

in the first sketch the paths were like spokes.

But in the second were weaved together to make one new path...

and this is requiring creativity in me and partnership with the Ultimate Creator...


I think I have an idea of how to weave it all together.

And I don't have to wait for a publisher to accept my manuscript.

{although, I'm open to that in the future}.

But how I can bring my heart together to touch, teach, lead, counsel the hearts of women.

And I can use all these things I love to do.

So . . . I am not going to announce it yet.

Praying.  Making sure.  But thinking this is it.

And you can be a part of it!!

{I'm SO EXCITED!}

Here is a quote I want to share:
"In retrospect, I can see in my own life what I could not see at the time--how the job I lost [left behind] helped me find work I needed to do, how the 'road closed' sign turned me toward terrain I needed to travel, how losses that felt irredeemable forced me to discern meanings I needed to know.  On the surface, it seemed that life was lessening, but silently and lavishly the seeds of new life were always being sown."
~"Let Your Life Speak", Parker Palmer

love and grace to you my readers,
my supporters,
my encouragers,
my friends, 
jodi

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Working On and Working Through

Leslie at her Words of Me Project blog

is uniting women in a 31 day creativity challenge

to create every day for 31 days.

This is day 2.

Here is what I am working on creatively along with my "vision board" posted yesterday.


I've been wanting to incorporate my photos

into some collage pieces

like scrapbooking, but for the wall.


So this is my first attempt at that.

Planning to mount the photos on balsa wood,

distress the edges of the photos,

use some paintsticks,

and create a 3-D piece.


And this is what I am working through.

This morning I pulled weeds and I prayed while I pulled weeds.

Poured out my heart to God really.

That is what I taught my Sunday School kids day before yesterday:
"Trust in Him at all times, O people,
pour out your hearts to Him
for God is our refuge."
Psalms 62:8

And I am always amazed that whatever I teach,

is taught to me and is for me.

After taking my "flying lessons" e-course,

I am feeling very overwhelmed with what direction to take.

I am a wife & mom.  That is consistent.  I love that.  I choose that.

But...I have these things calling my heart outside of that realm...

and I am overwhelmed by what to put time, energy, and, yes, money into.

And...the looming factor of how can I make money with these things calling me.

How can they or should they be more than a hobby?

Is it possible?  Should I even be envisioning that?

Because...well...we all need money, don't we??

And which one do I pursue right now

with a 3 year old daughter,

and an 8 year old daughter and 10 year old son?

From White Owl, South Dakota,

60 miles from the nearest town with a bank and grocery store?

Can I really do something with this...

with a heart for writing, photography, art, counseling the hearts of women and girls,

teaching the Word? 

A heart for ALL of these things!

About an hour after the outpouring of my heart,

I am going about my dishes or something mundane like that

and this is what I see in my mind:



So I quickly draw the sketch

of what I saw in my mind.

I believe this is significant.

I believe that we are all created with unique purpose and giftings.

Because we need each other.

And I am being bold in sharing this . . .

but I think this is a picture of where I am going.

I don't know exactly HOW right now.

But I am looking for it.  I am researching it.  I am taking little steps in each area.

Looking for a way to weave them all together.

I know that when I taught Bible School to pre-teens & teens

and that when I worked with the girls team

preparing the hand mime skit for the women & girls retreat

that I had the opportunity weave all of those together,

and I come alive in it. 

It is hard work and heart work

and I love to do the work it takes.

So that is a clue to it.

I feel like I am on a treasure hunt

and the treasure is my life.

I believe this:

"For we are his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus
for good works that God prepared long ago
to be our way of life."  Ephesians 2:10 {ISV}

I am His art.

With a purpose that is good.

{Wow! Is that ever humbling, when I let my mind linger there a bit?!}

I believe I am in this process.

I believe that all who have believed in Christ are in this process.

And it is not always easy.

But it is worth it.
*
I also re-visited this video


which is from Mars Hill Grad School in Seattle

{of all places}.

So, although I won't be uprooting and going to grad school in Seattle,

this video still resonates DEEP within my core.

The first time I watched it was about two years ago

when I was searching for works by Dan Allender whom John Eldredge had studied under.

{Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have read and often quote much of
John and Stasi Eldredge's books from Ransomed Heart Ministries
second only to the Word of God.}

And before the video was over,

my breath was taken away and I had tears streaming down my face.

It is a picture of other people who have weaved together

their faith with their interests and talents.

If they have done it, so can I.

THAT is what I am working through.

Photos and text copyright 2010 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw.

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Artistic Mother" Vision Board Project

My next project in

The Artistic Mother by Shona Cole

is to make a vision board.

After 15 years of making "goal" posters

this is a familiar activity.

However . . . this feels more authentic than ever before.

Maybe it is because I know my own heart better than ever before.

Maybe it is because I have accepted and embraced myself and desires more than ever before.

But this is requiring me to take a deep breath as I prepare this post.

These are the vision, goals, values, and scripture that are my own.

And it is extremely vulnerable to lay my heart out there for the world to see.

And yet, I believe it is important. 

It is part of being real, being authentic, being courageous.

It is scary to even hang up in my own house.

But I am commited to living authentically for me and for my family.

This last week, I plugged back in to Beth Moore's broadcasts.

And watched "Don't throw away your confidence".

This is a bold, courageous, confident step for me to post.

But here's my heart, my hopes, my dreams, my goals ~

VISION


One of Beth's quotes was,

"What would a courageous person do in my situation? 
Be the person. 
Do it."

This is me doing it.

GOALS

MY VALUES


SCRIPTURE
In The Bible, in the book of John, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well.
Though they have never met, he knows everything about her.
She recognizes that He is the Messiah and tells everyone she meets
that she met a man who knew everything about her.
Through many experiences, I know that He knows me
better than I know myself.
I hope that as I share my stories of Him knowing me
Others will hear HIM for themselves and believe.
That is my prayer for my family:
that they will hear Him themselves
and believe
with their own faith,
their own hearts,
their own love,
know that He knows them
and know that this Man really is the Savior of the world
and of them individually & uniquely.


Photos & text copyright 2010 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

South Dakota Sunset



This is one of my favorite photos from awhile back

of Tommy and Tarin

at our fishing dam near White Owl, SD.



The explosion of color

reflects

Tom's heart

for fishing.

That is how he feels about it.

Sun-up to sun-down,

he is never finished.

~a little savoring of South Dakota, right here where I am~

*Have a great weekend*

Another example of this verse:

"You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice."
Psalm 65:8

copyright 2010 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw

Friday, July 23, 2010

From heavens to earth...


This is a collage painting that I finished recently

inspired by Ephesians 3:17.

I have 3 versions of the verse in the painting:

"Be rooted and grounded in love"

"I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love."

"Stand firm and be deeply rooted in his love"

All 3 helped to complete the meaning for me.

This verse was included in my closing that I read at our Operation Space
Vacation Bible School program in June.

I have had several people ask for what I read
So I am posting here.
My resource for this information was
Beth Moore's DVD
"Measureless Love"

Here is what I read:
"We have been measuring every day this week.  BIG measurements.
We measured the length of the Apollo rockets that went to the moon.
We shrunk the solar system to make a model of the distance between orbits.
We "shrunk" the sun to the size of a ping-pong ball, and measured stars by using a roll of twine to measure the radius and then the kids walked the scaled circumference.  The largest, Deneb, a super giant had a scaled radius of 125 feet so we could not create the full circle in the church yard.

God figured out all of these measuremenmts so that every galaxy, star and planet was in the perfect place.  Why?  In Isaiah 45:18, it says, "He who created the heavens, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited."
Why?
So that we would seek Him.
And as it says in Isaiah 45:19,
we will not seek Him in vain.

We learned some of the precise things that had to occur for there to be life on earth:
*the right kind of galaxy
*right place in the galaxy
*right kind and size of star to orbit
*right distance from the star/sun
*proper mass of planet
*proper spin
*proper tilt
*placement of the moon
*magnetic fields and gravitational pull
*atmosphere with proper oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange
*water
*plants

#The odds of surviving a free fall from an airplane without a parachute are 1/60,000.

The odds of all these (and more) conditions for the earth to be able to be inhabited with life: 

1/150,000 million million
Which looks like this:
1/150,000,000,000,000,000#

If any one of those billions and trillions of stars were in the wrong place, gravity would be altered which would affect the orbits of all the others stars, down to our solar system and earth's ability to sustain life.

There is NO other planet in the known universe that is able to sustain life.

God has perfectly measured the entire expanse of the universe and this is what His word says
He hopes that we know:
In Ephesians 3:17-20 Paul prays
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that
you will be rooted and grounded in love,
and therefore may be able to understand...
the width, the length, the depth and the height ...
of the love of Christ which is beyond our knowledge
(beyond the knowledge of our vast universe of 100 billion galaxies)
so that we may be filled to the fullness of God.

He measured all the stars and the galaxies, but His love for you
through receiving Christ as your Savior is
MEASURELESS.
We measured BIG numbers all week.
But His love for you through Christ cannot be measured.
And yet, Paul prayed that we would be able to understand that
even though it cannot be measured.

Psalm 19:1 ~ "The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies show the work of His hands."

Mixed Media Collage copyright 2010 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw.
#Resource:  Measureless Love DVD by Beth Moore

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Put on Love



Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
Colossians 3:14

I am a new creation, clothing myself in love.
Character of the New Man

Mixed-media collage art copyright 2010 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Believe Truth


Believe Truth.

I can know truth

I can memorize truth

I can hear truth

I can see truth

But if I do not believe truth

It does not make a difference

in me.

What I believe

Is how I will live.

Believe Truth.

See John 14:6,17.  copyright 2010 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Celebrating Freedom


July is a month for celebrating freedom and we have done our fair share of feasting and fireworks.

Lots of celebrating.


I am grateful to live in the United States of America.

Grateful that my kids

have a safe place

to live

and play

and go to school.


Grateful that they have opportunities

to chose their education

and career

and to worship freely without persecution.


Grateful that their great-great {and even up to 10 and 12 greats}

grandparents

had the courage to cross an ocean

on a boat

and take a train or a horse or a wagon

across the plains.

Grateful that some fought for freedom even in the Revolutionary war

and for those that endured the Dirty Thirties, dustbowl and depression days.

There were no trees on this prairie.

At times just dirt and grasshoppers.

And yet, because they endured, we live here.

I am grateful.

*
*
*
*

These photos below are what Erin thought of the noisy fireworks.

I just had to share them too...because they are part of the reality

of our little celebrating here on the ranch.



Happy Birthday U.S.A.!

Have a great weekend!


Photos & text copyright 2010 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw

P.S.  My daughters green eyes are NOT enhanced with photo shop...that's the real thing.

Life Is Not About Painting the Perfect Picture

My friend, Joan Webb, has helped a goal happen for me.  Well, a little step of a goal.  She has written a book for new moms that is going to the publisher.  Joan had asked for stories, thoughts, input for her book from moms.  So, two of my friends and I shared bits and pieces with her.  Well, she is using some of our thoughts in her new book!  So exciting!  Although our names will be changed, it still counts as being published, doesn't it?  {Smile!!}

How fun!  I will be sure to announce when her new book comes out ~ but in the meantime . . .

Each day, I get a sweet little reminder of relief from my friend, life coach, writing mentor, Joan C. Webb.  She is the author of one of my favorite books, The Relief of Imperfection (http://www.amazon.com/Relief-Imperfection-Women-Hard-Right/dp/0830744819/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1#_ ).  It is a message that I continue to need.  Her messages always help me to breathe, as Nancy Kennedy's quote says at the top of the book cover.  Breathing is good.

What I love about my copy is the ripped cover . . . so loved . . .so imperfect.  I ordered this book at a time in my life that I realized with clarity that I was trying to paint the perfect picture of my life.  I was preparing to write my Christmas letter in 2007, and just got angry about how I always felt pressured to make a list of our accomplishments for the year.  Now, one could argue that I must not have had any accomplishments that year, but that would not be true.  Erin had been born in March.  Big accomplishment.   More like this:   it was because I had treated my Christmas letter like a resume to prove my value, to sell myself, to market my life, yes, to others, but deep down . . . to myself. 

That year, in my Christmas letter, I wanted to express the fulfillment in day-to-day random, chaotic, sometimes-messy life apart from major accomplishments or milestones.  It was a turning point, a shift in belief, in heart, in philosophy.  A transformation in thinking was beginning to occur.  I realized that there were things I believed that I had allowed to "run my life".  One of those things that I believed was that my life must always be presented as "great".  And that every aspect of it should be "great" or I was guilty, at fault, a failure.  When, in truth, it is not always all great in all areas, and that is fine.  There was a pressure that my life should be a "picture perfect brochure", and anything less would hinder my career, spiritual, and family growth as well as the growth of other people in my life.  Another lie:  other people's career and spiritual growth is my responsibility.  Truth:  While I may have an influence on another's career or spiritual life, it is not my responsibility.  Another myth I believed was that, "She has it all together.  So what is wrong with me?"  The truth is that no woman has it all together, and there was not something wrong with me because I did (and do) not.

It was then that I wrote this in my journal:  "It is not about painting the perfect picture.  Life is not about that.  Your career is not.  Church is not.  Christmas is not.  Christmas~ the gifts, letter, decorations, meal, presents is not.  Your house is not.  Being a Christian is not.  Sharing your faith is not.  It is not about painting the perfect picture." 

Living to prove yourself to others and to yourself is exhausting.  That way of thinking and motivation left me tired.  Weary.  Empty.  But this new thought, of an imperfectly joyful life, was a relief.  It was freeing.  I realized that everything did not need to be the picture-perfect brochure to be fulfilling.  And, I did not have to belittle myself in my mind for not living up to a perfect, unattainable standard.  I could and would find relief in doing my best, even when it wasn't perfect, and that sometimes just barely good enough is enough.

Joan Webb reminds me often that "Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful." 

Why am I blogging this now, rather than at Christmas? 

Because I needed to be reminded.  Because it is not just at Christmas that I am still nagged a bit in my head, still tempted to resign to the worldly pressure to prove. 

I am not endorsing laziness, irresponsibility or sloppiness.  Just simply acknowledging the pressure to live up to a magazine opened up to a neat-tidy-orderly-perfectly-color-coordinated image of a house that has NO LIVES in it.  Have you ever noticed that those perfect magazine photos of a home have no people in the picture?  {I am not even addressing the perfect body issue!}  Truth is living life is messy.

I need to be reminded that it is ok for me to have limitations.  Limits are ok.  Interestingly, recognizing that I am limited is freeing.  A boundary is freeing?  Yes.  It is a relief. 

One of my favorite prayers in The Relief of Imperfection is this, "Lord God, All nature reports to You.  You can do anything.  On the other hand, I can't reach the sky.  It's a relief to admit.  I once grabbed for 'it all,' now I want only what You plan to give me.  I'm waiting expectantly."  Psalm 16 says, "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places..."  and it also says, "You will show me the path of life; In Your presenece is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." That was a radical prayer and thought to me.  I could have boundaries, limitations, and at the same time have freedom, fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore at the hand of God.  At first, I felt like I should not admit that I felt limited.  Like it was un-American, un-positive thinking, un-Christian.  But there was relief and truth in recognizing my limits and God's limitlessness --that was there for me.  It is a freedom to run like I have already won the race.

Be real.  Be who you are.  Be your best self that you can be in this moment.  In this season.  It is a relief to know that I have company being an imperfect woman in an imperfect world.  It is relief that God's grace is there to make up the difference.  Where I am not enough, He is enough.  And that makes me enough.

copyright 2010 Jodene Shaw.
Quotes from The Relief of Imperfection by Joan C. Webb
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You can visit her blog at:  http://www.joancwebbblog.com/
She is also the co-author with Carol Travilla of The Intentional Woman
The Intentional Woman Website:  http://www.intentionalwoman.org/
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