limits

Everyone has limits. And it's okay. www.allume.com

We’re wrapping up our theme for the month of March: FOCUS.

For me, this one definitely hits close to home. What about you?

Let’s be honest. The online world is noisy, and I don’t see it getting quieter anytime soon. Don’t get me wrong, some of the noise is good. Really, really good. And some of it is downright ugly. Regardless, we all have a capacity limit, and when that limit is exceeded, it can be almost impossible to maintain focus.

I know … I don’t like being told I have limits either. When someone tells me I can’t do something, there’s a little part of me that just wants to prove them wrong. Of course I can make it work, right?  Yeah, maybe not. I’ve learned that one the hard way too many times.

For someone who teeters on the line between introvert and extrovert, being thrown head-on into this world of blogging and social media has threatened to turn me into a hermit. The pressure to be everywhere all at the same time and be awesome at it all is huge, particularly if you’re like me and your business depends on it.

Being online can teach you a lot about yourself if you let it.

I’ve found there’s a direct correlation between how well I manage my online life and how well I am able to stay focused on the things that are most important to me. Everything affects everything else. I can’t do it all. I can’t even do as much as many of the people I see around me. That can be a hard pill to swallow, but at the same time, it’s incredibly freeing.

My heart’s cry for this season of life is for simplicity. I’m still learning what that looks like for me. I talk to Phil a lot about tiny houses, but I know that isn’t the answer. It’s more about understanding my limits and learning to exercise the self-discipline needed to function well within those limits, rather than trying to push the boundaries every second of every day to measure up to what I feel like The Internet  expects of me. I’m taking baby steps.

You may have the capacity to be an Instagram Queen. (If you do, I love looking at your amazing photos!) I know I don’t … even the thought of it is just too exhausting … so I’m not going to try to be one.

Sometimes I just delete my Facebook app from my iPhone. It’s incredibly freeing, and the world doesn’t stop. After a while I usually add it back again, until I find myself looking at it too much. Then away it goes.

There are times and seasons. It’s okay to pull back from something to focus on another thing for a while. I’m learning to see when I need to pull away, and it’s amazing the focus that comes when I do.

We all have limits.

And it’s okay.

Accepting that doesn’t make you less valuable. It’s about understanding how God made you. He didn’t mess up. The way you’re wired isn’t some cosmic mistake. We’re all unique and wonderfully made.

You don’t have to be like anyone else. It shouldn’t be a contest. If you feel like it is one, it’s probably time to take a break and re-evaluate.

Just be you. Authenticity is so valuable. We need more of it. We need you.

 

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If you missed any of the Focus-themed posts here at Allume, I encourage you to go back and read them. There’s some great stuff here:

 

The Perfect Blog

There’s a little bit of chaos in my home, there’s a little bit of mess here in my heart, and yet, amidst it all, I find moments to pull away and write on my blog.  Closing the door on the voices and the unfinished housework my mind settles down. It’s almost as though the house is clean there on the other side of my work space, dinner is simmering on the stove, fresh flowers adorn the table and the children are all content.

Sometimes that’s true, most often it’s not, except my blog feels like it is.

Perfectly calm and controlled, like an oasis in the midst of real-life. And it should feel that way; I have given focused time and energy to cultivating its peaceful aesthetic.

I love my blog, I’m not going to lie. I love her clean lines and photo-shopped countertops; the color scheme makes me happy and the pictures of my children sparkle with just a little bit of fairy dust. Color-coordinated and lovely.

All in all, I think she’s rather “perfect.”

But here’s the thing: I know this love affair with my perfectly groomed slice of the internet isn’t healthy, or honoring.  As a matter of fact, when I wrote out why I blog, having the perfect website never made the cut.  And it shouldn’t!

allume graphic - perfect blog

Here are three reasons why “The Perfect Blog” should not ever be our goal!

1) The Perfect Blog is dangerous for our readers.

Perfectly manufactured posts and pins polish us up so much that we lose our mortal edges. Our readers compare themselves to the photo-shopped “reality” of our words and our days. Our blog-speak has the power to lead readers down a fearfully covetous path. No-no-no, perfection is never the goal. Because the allusion of perfection in the Christian life is dangerous.

It’s easy, here in this Pinterest age of perfectly set tables and DIY masterpieces, to forget the One we are blogging for. We set out to point women to Jesus, but somehow in our striving for tweetable quotes and pin-worthy graphics, we’ve accidentally crafted for ourselves an idol.

An idol.

“I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8)

Ladies, let’s take a moment to remember what we’re here to do.  We blog to make much of Jesus, the only perfection that has ever been or ever will be. We blog in our weakness to glory in His strength. We blog through our mess, to revel in His message. We blog our way through imperfections, grasping for His perfection. And as we do, we have the lowly privilege of pointing others to Him as well, smack dab in the midst of their chaotic, perfectly-flawed, real-life challenges.

2) Only One thing can take first place in our lives.

The word preeminent has been heavy on my heart during the writing of this post. Preeminent means “having first place.” There is not room for two first-loves. If your love affair with your blog comes in first, then Jesus doesn’t. It’s as simple as that.

When we focus the lion’s share of our time and attention on building the perfect site, we’ve little to nothing left over for Jesus.  Oh sure, I know we’re doing it all for Him, but let’s bow our heads for an honest moment and take a humble breath.  Do we run to His Word with the same faithfulness that we run to communicate our own words?  Even if our words are laced with His….

We have carved our piece of cyberspace in the name of God.  But here’s the warning: Even authors who build their platform 100% for His glory can get awfully confused in the process.  It began all about God, but somewhere between the designing and the uploading and the “about me” page, we tend to forget it’s all “about Him.”

 Hang this as a reminder over your heart and over your computer!

all about Him

3) There is only One perfection.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly… But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6&8)

Powerless, ungodly sinners…  Those are the words that describe this ragamuffin lot.  And yet we were chosen, dearly loved, and purposed for good works – even good works right here on our blogs!  The temptation, however, it to focus so intently on the perfection of those good works (and good words)  that we lose sight of the Perfect One we’re blogging for!

I’m not suggesting we blab our way through posts, dragging our shoulders and confessing our sins, nor am I asking you to leave your typos and forego pin-able graphics.  I’m simply saying that if we spend our days consumed by this pursuit of excellence, we may in turn become consumed by the striving.  So let us cease from striving and simply know that He is God, the Only Perfection that has ever been.  Let’s abide there!

And if… If you have not yet taken a moment to focus entirely on His Word today (before running to offer your own or to read mine,) please close your computer down, power-off your phone, forego your “perfect blog” and run to Him.

His Words.

His Perfection.

May all we do and say and write, be an overflow of His perfection!

The Eighteen Year Old Syndrome

A Season of the Carefree Life

Sophie talks about her first taste of working from home and relishes in the fact that she could do it in her pajama’s.

At 18-years old, she was doing far better things than I was at that age. Yes, 18 was my year of “rebellion”. Finally an “adult”, who bought her own car, I decided it was time for me to call the shots. It’s not that I went off the deep end or anything, but I did hang out with a less-than-stellar crowd I called my friends. Many of them were several years older than me, and most were male.

I called myself a Christian, but didn’t always do the “Christian thing”. I sometimes set my convictions aside so I could be part of the gang. Not that I want to put out the wrong message here, but they were little things, such as smoking cigarettes and drinking liquor; not things that completely changed the course of my life. Except maybe in the right direction.

The more I suppressed the Spirit, the easier it became to compromise. I definitely was in the middle of an identity crisis, not to mention a relationship crisis with my boyfriend/fiance’ [who’s now my husband]. There was a short season when we were not together and I decided to explore other options.

Needless to say, I didn’t like the other option. I mean, you could call it a crush, a rebound, whatever. But the “other option” didn’t have an interest in marriage — as in, ever.  As a girl who grew up without her dad at home, I guess I was pretty eager to start my life. I wasn’t interested in wasting my time on flings. Not to mention he had no interest in God. No, the grass isn’t greener sometimes. Sometimes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Sometimes, you think you know what’s good for you but you don’t.

Sophie made mention of that when dealing with accounting in her sister’s business. She didn’t do well with numbers. She thought it would be fun to move to Atlanta simply to spend the summer somewhere other than her hometown. She didn’t take into account there was work involved in agreeing to help with this business.

Eighteen-year-old’s are funny like that, aren’t they? They want all the benefits without sowing and believe there are no consequences to making poor choices. But, we both learned valuable lessons during that year of our lives, so that has to count for something.

This is when I learned Sophie and I are about 10 years apart. Our childhood’s don’t look anything alike, even though I remember so much the 80s. Yet, we still learned some of the same lessons, just in different ways. That just shows me that God can work in any circumstance, even when we are a hot mess at eighteen years old.

So, when my boyfriend/fiance’ and I decided we were better off together rather than apart, we decided to push our wedding up. You see, we were quite literally engaged when I entered my senior year of high school. He proposed before having a ring, but then spent all summer saving up to pay for one and I bore that pretty ring on my left finger all throughout my senior year of high school. Other than my circle of friends, I didn’t draw attention to it because, really, I knew people wouldn’t believe we were serious.

There were a lot of reasons we got married so young. (By the time we’d gotten married, we had been together three years.) But my housing situation needed to be remedied and since we planned on marrying anyways, we just pushed it up and planned it in 3 months flat. With our own money. Today, we joke about how redneck it was in some ways.

We married in a park, had our reception in that same park, with picnic tables covered with dollar store, plastic table cloths. We also had BYOB on our invitations. You know, Bring Your Own Beer, because we weren’t even of legal age to consume it and if people wanted it, they’d have to bring it. We weren’t concerned about impressing anyone, that’s for sure. We wanted a simple wedding that didn’t break the bank.

I was nineteen when we exchanged our vows and I have never regretted marrying when we did. Yes, we both went to college and worked full time, but we managed. It may have been what helped us build such a solid foundation in our marriage. If we could survive that season, why not have lots of children and and a few pets, too! (Side note: we have seven children, 3 dogs, and a parakeet).

What do you remember about being eighteen? What stands out the most?

Home is Where My People Are

 

How To Succeed

Keep your eyes on God_Allume

It’s 4:30 when the alarm goes off. Admittedly, I am a morning person but even at this hour, I groan at the thought of getting up. Most days it’s closer to 5 when I finally roll back the clovers to make my way to the coffee pot, and the couch for time in prayer, and the Word.

This is how most days begin partly because I like it this way, but mostly because I need it this way.

This time in the quiet with God, before the day stacks up around me is what helps me focus. This time of communion with my Maker is what centers me before my looming to-do list has time to knock me sideways.

We live full lives. Most of us (ahem) don’t have a lot of margin in our day. There’s not enough whitespace and in the steady flow of things that need to be addressed, handled, managed, sorted and processed, it’s easy to lose our focus, to get distracted, to forget why we do what we do–and how we ought to do it.

“Commit your work to the Lord”, the Psalmist writes, “and your plans will be established”.

We are all looking for ways to succeed in what we do–this is it, right here; “Commit your work to the Lord.” Turn your work over into His hands. Daily. Hourly, Every minute if you must. Keep your eyes on God, and watch how He leads you.

This is why I try to wake before dawn. The hand off that happens each morning in the quiet between me and Jesus is the only way I can handle all of the tasks I have before me.

I can’t do it in my own strength. I don’t want to. When I fail to work alongside the Lord, when I grab the reigns and work in my own strength and wisdom, I stumble. I run myself ragged and the various plates I’m spinning become unruly and burdensome. When it becomes about my ability to make things happen, things come undone.

I come undone.

Commit your work to the Lord, we’re told. That’s how to find success. He establishes our work for His glory when we surrender it to Him.

Entrust all of your work and ways to God, and watch how He guides the process. Watch How He leads you as you work.

Make time to meet with God as you plan your day. Set your schedule according to His purposes for you. Invite Him to your planning meeting.