Cease Striving: It’s OK

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God –  nobody is perfect

3:24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus – but it’s OK, Jesus has me covered.

As a young adult I knew I was a perfectionist and didn’t see any problem with it. In fact, would proudly exclaim this. Thinking it said to others, I don’t give up until I’ve done it perfectly. While this is true to a degree, there were many things I didn’t even try, knowing I wouldn’t be good at them or having tried once and failed. There was no room in my life for not doing it well, to near perfection. For those things that I did do well, there always seemed to be someone better. I had high standards for others and even higher standards for myself. High, impossible, unreachable, perfect standards. Whew! How I survived to adulthood with my sanity intact, though that point might be debatable by some, is uncertain. I thought it was a good thing. Once my oldest daughter was born, I began to realize, not only how much perfectionism had permeated my life and so much in it, but also that it wasn’t ok, maybe even a bad thing. How do you perfectly raise a child, keep house, cook, etc. all at the same time? I preferred to make foods from scratch and still do. But with a baby that refused to sleep and required entertainment 24/7, this overwhelmed and introverted mama had to come to the realization that nobody died from spaghetti sauce from a jar. I began to realize the grip this perfectionism had on me, this need to not make mistakes. Where did it come from? In part, it came from the Creator and the fabric He wove in me. But this was also nurtured in me by parents, aunts, uncles, teachers and others. For a first-born, the standard was high. As a quiet, smart little girl who could do much independently, the expectations were even higher. I can even remember moments of being taunted and teased by adults when I didn’t know something or performed sub-par. Though I will assume it was done in good nature, nonetheless, I added these expectations to my own. I added the deflated value of myself reflected in those taunts to the expected result if I did not perform perfectly. And so I spent much of my life striving. Striving for perfection, striving to perform perfectly, striving to know everything, striving to hide what I couldn’t do and didn’t know.

My first-born was a blessing in so many ways, but one of the most significant to me is that at her birth God began a transformation in me. But it wasn’t so much a light switch flipping on as it was a dimmer slowly bringing into view the different areas of a room. I began to make small changes and accept my own limitations, but still struggled with feeling accepted by others in my imperfect state. I always viewed being imperfect as a privilege afforded to others, but not to me. That other people in their failings found support, forgiveness and camaraderie with their fellow man. I felt harshly judged, unaccepted, unworthy. It was several years later I realized I was still struggling with wanting to know where the line of acceptable/unacceptable imperfection is. In other words, I was striving to be perfectly imperfect!  Thankfully, God is patient and continues to turn that dimmer switch a little at a time, to shine light on as much as I can handle to address at once. Still, I occasionally struggle with accepting my best in the circumstances as good enough. I questioned whether to write this series because don’t have it all figured out. But it’s ok. I need to accept that what I can do is good enough. What God does through me is not good enough, it is simply good.

Even as I now write, I think of the people that will not approve, who will think little of the efforts I have put forth here. Like the preacher I once overheard saying I have no gift, no talent, from God. I’m guessing there are others who have felt the sting of being slapped in the face by the words of others. Those people, those word-slappers, for their own reasons, find only fault with what even God does. I don’t want to absorb those words into my view of myself, or attribute them to how God sees me. I don’t want to see every one of my faults all at once, counting them, becoming overwhelmed at hiding until I fix them, worrying that others see them and judge my value to God by them. I’m not perfect. God loves me. It’s ok.

Cease Striving: A Perfectionist’s Perspective

Cease Striving: What’s in a Name?

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Bacon, Beans, Squash & Greens

Inspired by Chef Jose at the Carriage House Farm OEFFA Farm tour, Martha Stewart and the 10 squashes I had on my counter, I created a surprisingly delicious dinner. Roasted butternut squash, blended with milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice topped with a combination of sauteed red onion, broccoli and canellini beans, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled with bacon. Quite filling, yet another of those meals that 2 servings didn’t seem to be enough for everyone. I imagine this would be equally good with the addition of tomatoes and garlic. Or salad greens instead of broccoli for a cold salad. I think I’ll be trying Martha’s butternut squash pot stickers soon. With my own twist, of course. 😉

What are your favorite ways to eat squash?

Cease Striving: What’s in a Name?

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

refers to our human ability to turn our backs on God and commit sin. It reminds me that nobody is perfect.

Every day, people across the world, I suspect, read and recite Proverbs 46:10. “Be still and know that I am God,” it says. This verse has for me always conjured up a vision of people literally being still with their bodies. Of quiet and prayerful contemplation. Of opening one’s heart and spiritual ears to hear God’s words. For He is God. He is in control. Everything is under His charge. It is a reminder that we must take time out to spend time with God, to listen and discover His will in our lives. Upon reading a friend’s blog, I came to have a completely different understanding of this verse. Don’t get me wrong. Quieting our minds & bodies to hear God is not only a valid interpretation of this verse, but supported throughout the Bible. This is something we should do. However, when I read a friend’s blog entry, she had chosen to use the NAS version, which says “Cease striving and know that I am God.” A light went on, a piece of the puzzle fell into place. Sure, I had heard that version before, but this time God gave me a clearer understanding of “cease striving.”

Cease: quit, stop it, cut it out! Striving: exerting strenuous effort, battling, struggling, working hard. Aha! God wants me to stop struggling, to quit working so hard. No, I’m not saying I believe God’s desire is for me to sit around eating bonbons and not do any work. Quite the opposite. God wants me to put forth effort for Him, according to His plan for my life. To help people come to know Him. But to do so effectively, I must have proper focus, not distracted by those things that would keep me from taking and making bold steps for Him. For many people, myself included, one of these distractions is perfectionism. God wants me to stop working so hard in a futile attempt to be perfect and let Him do the work on me. I just go for the ride, taking comfort, relaxing, if you will, in the knowledge that He is doing a good work in me, in His time.  In His perfect plan, I will have been trained and will be prepared for each task He has for me. I am not perfect. I will never be perfect in this life. It is only through the blood of Jesus that I can be made perfect. Not from my own doing, but from His death, I am made perfect. And that’s okay. Everything will be okay.

We perfectionists can get so caught up in what others think and end up trying to see ourselves through their eyes. Are we accepted? Good enough? We need to get rid of what we think others want from us and even the “to do lists” that we think the Bible is giving us. We do need to “be still”, we do need to take time out to focus on God and worship the Almighty to recognize God’s will in our lives. But we need to throw away our perfectionist perspectives and look from God’s perspective.

Why should I work so hard at trying to do everything perfectly when I will never succeed? Why should I not give it to God, who is perfect and can sort it all out with no effort? I will have my part to do, of course, not the least of which is to try to trust His plan and promises. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t give my best effort at whatever I do, but I don’t need to count my worth, my value, my life, my salvation or any other such things on the result of my efforts. The result of my efforts might not be perfect, but through Jesus, I can be. Be still says stop a minute, take time out of your day. Cease striving. Well, that’s quite a different connotation, isn’t it?

Cease Striving; a perfectionist’s perspective

Years of my life and God’s work have gone into this series. I have wondered how and when, and even if, to share this. Though I’m still wondering, it seems now is the time. I have for several years described myself as a recovering perfectionist. I have seen perfectionism in others and heard one refer to themselves as “recovering.” I hope this series speaks to someone. I don’t know exactly how this will play out, but I expect there will be a few to several installments. I’m trying to let God write this series without getting in His way. It is because He chose to allow me to be involved in its production you will find it isn’t perfect.

Remember, God is big enough that He loves every one of us and holds us all in His protective hand. His shoulders are broad enough to carry all our worries; He is strong enough to hear when we are angry. Yet, He makes himself small enough to fit into our hearts so He will be with us when we follow Him. He hears our every whisper and wish.

Please join me as I try to share a perfectionist’s perspective.

Cease Striving: What’s in a Name?

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30 Meals

I recently read somewhere about a person that had a list of her family’s favorite 30 meals she used as a resource for her meal planning. I think I might have seen it on Nanny Goat, but I’m not certain. With school starting soon, and well, because I can always use help with meal planning, I decided to begin my own list of 30 meals. My list is just starting, a collection of dishes from the top of my head. I can add a salad &/or fruit to these dishes to create a complete meal. If I end up with a surprise ingredient from one of my CSAs or find a great deal on something, I can check my list for ideas on how to use it. I plan to keep this list and related recipes handy for meal planning while ordering my food from Green BEAN.

I have added my list it to the Menu Plans page in case you might like some ideas or might be interested in creating your own version of this tool. As always, the dishes are made with whole, real foods. I’ll add recipe links as I am able. If you see a dish listed you are interested in trying that I haven’t posted a recipe for, please let me know. If you have an awesome family favorite recipe, I’d love for you to share it.

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Another Real Food Menu Plan

    It is spring! We had our first day back at the CSA where we volunteer. It was a wonderful, beautiful day! With the warm spring we have had, the farm has harvested quite a bit already and the garden plots are all very green. One of our favorite parts of going to the farm is the critters we get to see. Yesterday, we had the delight of seeing a low flying blue heron as well as a pair of bright orange orioles making a nest. As always, we were able to bring home some yummy food. I am excited to try my new dehydrator on the pile of chives I brought home. It’s always a great day on the farm and I know we will have many wonderful meals from the food we get to bring home. Most of the produce we froze last summer is gone. It’s time to use up the rest and make room for the summer bounty. I have also been taking classes at the farm on foraging and natural medicine. I have spent time reading and learning more about it on Frugally Sustainable     and Common Sense Homesteading    , as well. I’m looking forward to collecting the medicines God has provided, should we need them. Also this summer, I’m planning to try my hand at fermenting veggies.

While pulling radishes (some of them a little curly), we found a few tiny stray red oak lettuce leaves and some lamb’s quarter to nibble. We each even had one sweet strawberry. Yum! Looks like there might be more of that sweet, delicious redness to come….

    Real food is simple. It can be as simple as eating a giant radish you just pulled from the ground, but cooked meals are great, too. On that note, I have prepared another menu plan     for you to check out. Please let me know what you think.

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Beans, Beans…

People have been eating dry legumes since ancient times. We continue this tradition because they are a delicious & healthy way to add protein to meals at a lower cost than meat. Some nutrition experts recommend 3 cups/week, while others suggest as much as 8 cups per week for optimal health benefits.

Dried peas, lentils and beans are high in fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol and reduce the risk of several cardiovascular diseases. They also contain potassium which helps reduce the development of blood vessel plaques and reduce blood pressure. OK, so they really are “good for your heart.” But, what else?

The fiber helps control blood sugar levels and helps prevent digestive disorders and colon cancer. Dry legumes are an excellent source of molybdenum, which helps to detoxify sulfites. Besides these nutrients, dry legumes are very good sources of protein, vitamin B1 (thiamin), folate, tryptophan, phosphorus and manganese. Dry peas contain isoflavones that reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancers. Lentils contain iron for energy and copper. Black beans contain magnesium and iron. Kidney beans contain copper and vitamin K. Garbanzo beans (chick peas) contain a wide variety of antioxidants.

The bad side of beans:

  • Dry legumes contain purines. Check with your doctor if you have issues with your kidneys or with gout
  • “the more you eat, the more you…” ahem, yes. Soaking peas and beans (not required for split peas or lentils) reduces the “musical” effect. 😉

For more info on the nutrition of beans, check out World’s Healthiest Foods or you can do an internet search.

While they store well for up to a year in dried state and are cheaper, there is little difference in the nutritional value of canned beans vs dried, though cooking your own lets you control the added salt and you don’t have to worry about bpa leaching from the can. Cooked dried beans can be made ahead and frozen. Or you can cook a big pot of beans and eat from it all week. We love Canellini, white kidney, beans to add to soups, salads and pastas, but you can also puree peas or beans to make a hummus-like spread for a snack, put them in chili, or make baked beans. Below are a couple of recipes you might like. How do you enjoy dry legumes?
Gheymeh — a Middle Eastern stew, originally made with lamb (I use beef) and yellow split peas

Red lentils with pasta — for some reason, they didn’t put salt in this recipe. It needs it. 🙂

Hummus

Pasta e fagioli

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