November 19, 2016

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist - Book Review

Do you ever find books in your hands that as you turn the pages, you chuckle to yourself and think "God, you are a sneaky one?" Because it is as if the author has been sneaking into your quit time and listening to your prayers or reading you journal that hides itself safely in your nightstand drawer?

This was one of those books. They all seem to be those kinds of books these days. {:I am currently reading "How's Your Soul" by Judah Smith and it too seems to be one of those books.:}

I picked up this book because my best friend said she had started reading it. When I saw it and read the title, I quickly sent her a message to ask what she thought about it before I fully committed to who knows how many hours and late nights reading it. She said it made her want to slow down and enjoy life more.

Slow down? Enjoy life more? Um, yes. I'll take that, please.

This is the first book I have read by Shauna Niequist, daughter of Bill Hybels. 

As I read the title, "Present Over Perfect", it spoke to something my heart longed for - to be present and in the moment instead of obsessing over perfection. Perfection in my work, my appearance, my social media posts. My wardrobe choices. My coma placement in my blog posts. You get the point. 

Reviewing this book almost seems wrong. That is exactly what this book is proposing we lay down. In "Present Over Perfect" Shauna challenges her readers to stop being motivated by perfectionism and start being motivated by love. Through her personal journey of learning this she shares how it is she got to a breaking point of basically wanting to throw her hands up and say "I give up". And who hasn't felt like that before? 

Shauna's writing wasn't my favorite. Her chapters are short which I did enjoy because I could easily read a chapter while waiting in the car for a friend or as I am sitting patiently for my next class to begin. 

Though her writing style may not be my cup of tea, I found myself constantly highlighting throughout the book. There is no doubt she has some profound wisdom from this journey she has traveled on and is generously sharing it with the world through this book. As I read through these pages my heart definitely sighed a big "me too" as I read about her own struggle of wanting to live up to expectations and exceed them while trying to balance the jobs of daughter, wife, mother, and basically human being. 

I am with Shauna. I want to stop the whirlwind of living according to to-do lists, living up to the expectations of what others think I should be, and the perceptions of how big my capacity is as a leader. I want to be ruled by love and not perfectionism. I want to live an imperfect life and be okay with it. 

So three stars for this book style, but five stars on being the message I needed to hear most in my season. 

What are you currently reading? I'm about to be on school break for two months and totally okay with devouring some good reads!

**All opinions in this post are mine alone and are not reflective of the publisher or author. This is a post written in conjunction with BookLook Bloggers in order to create an authentic review of the above text.**

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November 14, 2016

When Discipline brings Shame in this Control Freak's Heart

Creating discipline in your life, serves you...until it doesn't.

A practical statement, but one that, I believe, has hidden layers of complexity within it.

If you don't know me well, allow me to enlighten you. I am an introverted, self-reflective, internal processor. Basically, I like to pick myself apart in quiet solitude - and no, I don't want to talk about it.

Don't let the vulnerability I show {:at least I hope I do because who needs another unrelatable writer in blogosphere?:} in my blog post fool you. Yes, I enjoy being vulnerable here because I believe it is how other people relate to you and in some way breathe a deep sigh of "you too? I thought I was the only one." And, thats what I desire. It's what we need. However, my vulnerability only comes after a lot of digging around in this head and heart of mine. I rarely share the things I am sorting through at the moment. I wait a a good week before pressing the "publish" button...

The other day I was neck deep in my inner world. I was thinking about one of my strengths: discipline.

My discipline serves me well. My world is pretty ordered. I like it that way. I like discipline. I like structure. Basically, I like control. For the most part, my discipline, structure, and controlled life serves me well. I go to church when I don't feel like it. I eat the kale instead of the french fries. I hit the pavement with my running shoes instead of hitting snooze most mornings. I can find all of my files easily because they are perfectly organized in files on my USB and I can juggle several plates all at one time. All these traits, and even dare I say strengths, serve my life well. Until, they don't.

What I found as I was rooting around in my inner world is that some of my greatest strengths have created some of my most significant and debilitating weaknesses. As they usually do.

I pride myself on being in control, disciplined, and structured. This means I have little time for chaos, slip ups, or the interruptions in my already very scheduled life. And wouldn't you know that life just happens to be filled with the whirlwind of chaos, the plethora of slip ups, and the frequent interruption.

I realized that these same strengths that have gotten me to where I am now in life, can no longer sustain me where I am going. My world is getting bigger and what I feel God is calling me into can hardly fit into a box, be scheduled into my iCalendar, or something even the best intended disciplines will allow me to control. But I want to go! I want to go on this adventure with God forward...but it dawned on me that shame is holding me back.

I had to dig around a bit deeper in my head and heart to see where this shame was coming from. Holy Spirit showed me that it was tied to my desires for discipline, structure, and control. So, I feel shame when I am less than disciplined with my habits. I feel shame when I cannot control a situation and find myself attempting to control other things, or worse, other people. I feel shame when I fail to miss this etherial "mark" I have set for myself of what a woman living in the center of God's will looks like. I feel shame because I love being the "have it all together girl" that I am actually not - no one is. But I like to be that girl. I want you to think I am even though I know I am not. I experience shame when I feel like I don't live up to God's expectations.

This is a misunderstanding of who God is though. He knows me. He knows my struggles and even on my least disciplined, unstructured day, when everything seems to be out of control - He still chooses me.

I came to the realization that day that the only thing shame does is breed fear - fear of other people's opinions, fear of how I will be perceived: Will they think I am a high capacity woman? Am I good enough? Do I live up to your expectation of what you think I should be? And it blocks me from Love {:aka God:}. The perfect love that casts out all fear. And here is the beauty of it, when discipline, structure, and control are in perfect harmony with Love they fulfill their purpose in my life and calling. They bring organization to chaos. They bring bring you to the safe center when the hurricane is swirling around you. They see a way forward when the weight of obligation and expectation press in. They serve me when they are centered in Love.

Our strengths only serve us, until they don't.
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