5.16.2016

The Problem With Pinterest

Have you ever looked at social media and felt like everyone else’s marriage was more romantic, their style more hip, and their house more beautifully decorated than yours?

The comparison struggle. is. so. real.

I’m thankful that my pastor and friend, Steven Furtick, agrees. And he’s here with us on the blog today with some practical tips on how to start seeing beyond the traps social media can lure us into.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

What – or who – is your standard of comparison? Often, we are insecure because of unrealistic images against which we judge our spirituality and success.

I call it The Pinterest Perspective.

PCMag defines Pinterest as: A socially oriented photo-sharing site in the form of an online pinboard.

I have a slightly different definition:

Pinterest is a visually driven social media platform strategically designed for nonstop, twenty-four-hours-a- day, seven-days-a-week reminders that your kids are not as well dressed as your neighbors‘ kids, that your home is decorated in the most amateur fashion imaginable, that the pictures you take are bland and artless, that you did a terrible job planning your wedding, and that you live a generally tedious, monotonous existence—unlike everyone else, whose lives are categorically awesome at all times.

Yes, I have a bit of a problem with Pinterest.

Of course, I’m not against social media in general or even Pinterest in particular. Social media is just a tool. And the results it generates reflect the intention of the user. That’s where the trouble starts.

See, any time you’re considering your real life accomplishments or problems from a Pinterest perspective, you are judging yourself against an illusion. When we compare our underwhelming reality to other people’s staged, cropped, filtered photos, we jump to the wrong conclusions. Because we started with the wrong context.

The problem with Pinterest is the problem within us. It‘s the perfect platform for our tendency to pretend, to pose, and to perform, all in an effort to bolster a shaky self-esteem.

I want to challenge you today. When you are faced with the temptation to compare yourself to the glories of others, try contemplating the glory of God instead, in the way Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 3:18.

I know this sounds a little abstract – (really pal, contemplate? Contemplate this laundry basket…)

But it can be really simple. To contemplate simply means to think about. To consider. To dwell on.

And there are practical ways we can compare less, and contemplate more:

• Some of our social media scrolling can be so routine that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. But decreasing your time on it might be as easy as moving apps around on your phone. Take the Bible app or First 5 and put it on the first screen in the easiest place to see. Place the social media icons on the last page. This will force you to make the conscious decision to swipe all the way over to your social media accounts, while your Bible apps remain front and center.

• Instead of going on Instagram or Facebook first thing in the morning to see what everybody else is doing and reading their comments on your feed, spend some time in God’s Word. It would be good to do this before you go to sleep as well. Feed yourself something more substantial, and see if you feel stronger.

• Make it a point to write down and say out loud what you’re thankful for several times a week, if not daily. Focusing on what you’ve been blessed with is one of the first steps to getting out of the comparison trap.

God has so much He wants to show you, but maybe you’ve allowed yourself to become blinded by the images and illusions of this world. 2 Corinthians 3 promises a new point of view and a new level of freedom for those who will dare to remove the veil.

UNQU-Book Cover We’re giving away a signed copy of Pastor Steven’s new book (Un)Qualified: How God Uses Broken People to Do Big Things. This book is for anyone who’s ever felt like they just didn’t have what it takes to get through another day. It’s an amazing resource that can apply to your life no matter what season you’re in. To be entered to win, post a comment below with how you’ll be shifting your social media perspective this week. Click here to purchase your copy.

5.11.2016

Is This a Delay or a Dead End?

Have you ever felt God calling you to step out in faith, only to find yourself wondering if you heard Him wrong?

I understand.

For many years I thought my calling to write was a dead end instead of a delay. I received rejection letter after rejection letter from the many book proposals I’d sent to publishers. I was so frustrated! I started wondering if I had heard God incorrectly when this passion to write was placed in my heart.

I didn’t realize I was confusing a delay with a dead end. But I think we do this all the time. We put a period where our life story may just need a little string of dots …

In punctuation, there are terminal points and pausing points. A terminal point is a period, a question mark or an exclamation point.

But there are far more options for pausing points such as: the comma, semicolon, colon, em dash, and my personal favorite which drives my editors a little batty: the ellipsis.

What in the world does all of this have to do with Biblical truth?

When we confuse what’s really a pausing point with a terminal point, we can get into trouble. And that’s how the people of Israel got themselves into a mess of trouble while waiting for Moses to come down from a mountaintop meeting with God.

Exodus 32:1 tells us, “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’”

What “happened” to “this fellow” was that God was giving Moses the Ten Commandments. A pretty important pause. But because the people didn’t understand the delay, they decided they couldn’t trust God.

So, they took matters into their own hands and had Aaron form a false god to comfort themselves and combat their confusion. In the end, their solution only added more chaos. And it cost them more than they ever imagined.

They got completely out of control. They became the laughing stock of their enemies. Many lost their lives — it says over 3,000 died. AND they suffered from a plague.

Of course, they could have avoided it all, including enraging Moses to the point where he threw the stone tablets God had personally carved for them, breaking them into pieces. But that would have required waiting just a little longer for Moses to return.

Oh, friend. When there is a delay in our lives, we must determine to fill the gap between here and there by intentionally proclaiming every hint of God’s activity. Just the fact that we woke up breathing this morning is evidence of His goodness. So, let’s make a list and keep acknowledging that just because God is silent in one area of our life does not mean He is silent in every area.

Also, let’s think about an area of our life where we’ve been waiting for what seems like an unreasonable amount of time. Let’s determine today not to mistake this delay for a dead end.

We can say out loud, “I will not run ahead of God in this. I will not manipulate or manufacture solutions. I will not give up until God confirms I should. I will keep seeking God, fully anticipating and trusting His perfect plan to unfold in His perfect timing and His perfect way. And if He does confirm this is a dead end, I will still honor Him.”

As for the delays in my journey to be a writer, I can look back and see that the Lord used those times in my life to develop my character to match my calling … and I’m so thankful He did.

So let’s trust Him today. And choose to believe He is packing great purpose into our places of pausing.

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At Proverbs 31 Ministries, our deepest desire is to meet you in your delay by offering free resources to help you seek God and trust His plan to unfold in His perfect timing.

Each day we reach women all over the world with our free:

• First 5 app
• Encouragement for Today daily devotions
• Online Bible Studies
• Radio shows
• Social media encouragement
• And more!

But we can only continue to offer these free resources with help from friends like you. Will you prayerfully consider partnering financially with Proverbs 31 Ministries? Click here to give.

5.4.2016

Overcoming the Overwhelming for Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I’m reminded that this holiday doesn’t always feel so ‘happy’ for each of us. I’m grateful my friend Rachel Wojo understands this and is guest posting on the blog today to point us to Jesus in the moments that might be difficult this time of year.

Some days I would pick up the phone to call her, only to realize that I couldn’t. Since Mom had graduated to Heaven, one of my favorite months of the year became the most difficult.

May 10 is Mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day is always close to that date. Going to church on Mother’s Day became bittersweet after her death. I wanted to celebrate my children and the joys of motherhood; but I also ached to see my mama. A roller coaster of emotions resulted.

After Mom’s death, my daughter, Taylor was diagnosed with MPS at age 4. The diagnosis of a rare, terminal disease was tough enough, but to watch the gradual decline as neurological degeneration occurred was more than I could bear. With the loss of my mother still very fresh, watching my daughter lose her quality of life little by little consumed my heart and soul.

At age 6, the loss of cognitive discernment grew more evident. TayTay didn’t sleep well, and when she woke up in the night, she’d play quietly in her room. Some nights, I placed her back in bed so many times that I couldn’t hold my eyes open long enough to walk to her room one more time. So I’d sleep on the floor in the hallway to ensure that she didn’t leave the room or injure herself. Our family worked to make everything as childproof as we could. We moved the light switch to the outer hallway so she wouldn’t play with it. To keep her from harming herself by swinging on hangers and climbing on closet shelves, we placed locks on the closet doors.

Then Taylor developed a habit of placing her hands in her diaper. During the day, we kept a close eye on her diapering needs, but at night, it became more challenging.

One Sunday morning, I awoke early to prepare for church and before I hopped in the shower, I peeked into Taylor’s room. In spite of my early rising, Taylor had been awake for a while. She had taken on an art project of the worst kind. Because I had been unable to care for her diapering needs instantly, she had plastered the room with poop. The curtains, the walls, the bedding, the carpet, the doorknob, her toys. Everything.

I could hardly pull myself together enough emotionally to take her to the bathtub and wash her clean. I opened her bedroom window, closed the door, and took her to my bed to watch TV so I could take a speed shower. All the while, I sobbed and asked God why.

Why did we have to go through this? Why did she have to lose her mind? Why did I have to spend the afternoon after church scrubbing down her entire room?

And why did all this have to happen… on Mother’s Day?

I couldn’t do it. I was overwhelmed on every level and struggled to understand. Why does life have to be so difficult?

How did I begin to overcome the overwhelming?

How did I begin to work through those hard questions? I discovered that I needed to run to God’s Word when discouragement strikes. If Psalm 18 were written today, it might be known as “David’s Survival Guide for the Overwhelmed.” Take a look at the psalmist’s 6 tips for overcoming the overwhelming.

• Recognize that God is your strength.
I love you, O Lord, my strength. (Psalm 18:1) Can you repeat David’s praise as your own?

• Realize that prayer is your lifeline.
What does your prayer life look like right now?

• Remember the victories God gave in the past.
What has God brought you through so far?

• Refuse to focus on personal limitations and believe God will do His redemptive work in you.
What personal fears are holding you back from believing God will empower you for His work?

• Recall the details of God’s moment by moment provisions.
How has God provided protection for you, even in your overwhelming circumstance?

• Renew your perspective of the situation.
Is your vision limited by failing to recognize his never-ending supply of strength?

My perspective of being an overwhelmed mama has changed drastically since that dreadful Mother’s Day afternoon I spent cleaning up poop. I’ve learned that God is my total source of strength and that by continually talking to my Heavenly Father about everything, I will naturally take my burdens to Him as well. When I think about the victories God has given me by providing patience and understanding, I’m stunned by His provisions. I stopped focusing on my lack of abilities to care for a child with special needs and began comprehending that God chose me to be Taylor’s mother. I am the mom He trusts with her unique and precious life.

Years after the poopy art incident occurred, more heartache consumed our family when we lost a sweet baby to Heaven just a few months after conception. Like David, we found ourselves in a state of being completely overwhelmed. But that’s why it’s called a survival guide. We’re likely going to need the reminders again and again, right?

Two years later, another Mother’s Day arrived and in place of feeling despair, our family experienced delight. This day, May 10, 2009, was not only Mother’s Day, and not only my mom’s birthday, but also a special redemption day. We had prayed and God answered beyond our request or imagination. He ushered a baby girl into our lives on this very day, not only to answer our prayers, but to reveal His incredible power and attention to detail. He redeemed a significant date for our family by allowing Tarah to be born on her grandma’s birthday and Mother’s Day, the very day that I thought I could never be fit to be a mom.

We only share the poopy art days to reveal the glory of how He takes the worst mess and creates the best message. How He takes the hard days of loss and balances them with happy days of love. How He loves to take the overwhelmed and transform them into overjoyed. He did it for us; He’ll do it for you too!

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If you enjoyed today’s post, you’ll love Rachel’s latest book, One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up. We’ve got 3 copies to give away today! Just leave a comment below to be entered to win.