Friday, October 20, 2017

Pride

I recently posted this photo of a 5K medal I received on Instagram. I almost didn't. I didn't want to boast. I didn't want to seem arrogant or proud or stuck-up. I was just thankful, and happy, and I guess proud of myself for what my body accomplished, but not in an, "I'm better than you" way.


(This is the medal I received in the mail from September's Patriot Run.)

I consulted with my mom before posting, and she said she thought it was okay. I put a lot of stock in what Mom says, so I posted. But I mulled over the issue of pride all night.

When is it appropriate to be proud? When is pride a sin? The Bible doesn't seem clear, calling pride a sin in some situations, but then using it to describe belief and self-confidence in other situations. Take a look at the verses below:

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 11:2 
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Romans 12:16
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

2 Corinthians 7:4 
I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

Galatians 6:4 
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.

Is pride just bad when it preoccupies a person? When it begins to put self above others and God? When is it okay to be proud? Billy Graham's website says, "the kind of pride the Bible condemns is a pride that puts ourselves first, and leaves God out of the picture." Maybe that's why I tagged my Instagram post #thankful.

I struggle with extremes, as noted in my many posts about perfectionism. I think this is another area of it. I want to be a perfect Christian, to not come near sin. But in the process, I often demean myself. I don't give God gratitude for things He allows me to accomplish, like winning a medal in this 5K. And when I obsess about trying to be a perfect Christian by avoiding any possibility of sin, I feed into the lie that I can be good enough to earn my salvation. That says Christ's sinless sacrifice wasn't good enough to cover my sin. I don't even want to go there.

Where am I settling on pride? I am settling on the idea that it is okay to be proud of accomplishments, to give God glory for the ability to get things done on this earth. It's wrong to be proud and stuff things in the faces of others, to demean God's created beings by pretending I'm better than them. But it's also wrong, and prideful, to not share God's goodness, to hide His gifts and pretend like that makes me holy. It doesn't. It makes me stingy and ungrateful and lacking in confidence to do what God wants me to do.

So friends, where are you? What has God allowed you to accomplish? Celebrate it. Talk about it. But just don't forget to remember the God that got you there.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Comfort Objects

Some of you may have noticed the shark in my last afghan post, so I thought I'd tell his story. I selected sharkie from a collection of objects at a work training. I got to the table late, and there wasn't much left, so I took him. I figured there would be some "object lesson"attached to the object, so I tried to think of one that would go with him. To be honest, I didn't like his gray color, or his big eyes, or his teeth. I didn't like that fact that he belonged to a group of animals thought of as predators.



But as the day went on, and the training got long, I held onto sharkie. I squeezed him and petted his soft fur and played with his tag. At some point, there were questions about our objects, but I don't really remember them. I just know that by the time I got home, sharkie had become a comfort object.

What's a comfort object? It's an object that has emotional value, a transitional object that eases security. How items become comfort objects is unknown, different for every person, but they work. Children have them, and guess what? Adults do, too.

Sharkie became a comfort object because he soothed my anxiety during a long work training in which I needed to be still and quiet, but wanted to be anything but. When I got home, I left Sharkie out on my desk in the open, because I wanted to remember the calm he brought me. Sharkie is still here and every time I think about moving him, I decide not to do so. I may be an adult, but I still gain comfort from inanimate objects.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Taking a Day Off

Those of you who know me in real life know that I'm a chronic "doer." Over the past few weeks, though, I've pretty much done myself in. So when the opportunity came to clear my schedule and take a vacation day yesterday, I did. Sure, I felt a little guilty. Yes, I wondered if I could have made it another day. But when I woke up at 7:25 am instead of rolling over to turn off the 5 am alarm, I was glad I decided to take a break.

What have I done today? A whole lot of nothing. Well, I did change the sheets on my bed and do two loads of laundry. I did my physical therapy exercises. But those are things that needed to be done. Besides that, I fixed myself a nice breakfast and just allowed myself to sit.

I scrolled Instagram and watched a few YouTube videos. This one about Cole LaBrant's vows to his adopted daughter at the wedding to her mom is pretty sweet.

I did a little computer work (writing this blog, prayer verses, etc.). I wrote my family an e-mail.

I watched an Amazon Prime movie: Pitching Love and Catching Faith. (It was a mostly clean movie, but struck out on the faith aspect. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I stayed in my pjs through lunch, more social media, and a nap. Then I finally changed into "real" clothes to go for a jog. Albeit at a slow place, I made it through three miles. This was my first jog in over a week. And I felt like I finally had some energy!



After jogging, I stretched and spent some time in my happy place. My best friend bought me that floor pillow, and it's awesome. There's something about sitting on the floor that makes me feel calm. My 25 cent library magazine and crochet were welcome companions for my quiet retreat.



Next came Thai food with middle school friends.


And then a wrap up of this blog post on the computer, nightly snack, and bed.

I like to be productive. I like to justify my days and my life. And yesterday was justifiable. Just not in the traditional sense. It was a needed break and a needed rest. I didn't get a lot done, but that's not what rest days are about.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Afghan 55

Another month, another afghan. I made it part of my self-care practice to try to crochet three rows a day in September. I achieved my goal most days. The problem was that this afghan was supposed to take only four hours. 




Instead the blanket took the month to made. Admittedly, neither the pattern nor the color are my favorite. The blanket is very imperfect, and I fear too big for more newborns.



The blanket is done now, though, and I can move on.

I am moving on in other areas, too, like with my dystonia. I have started physical therapy and though I am not sure it is helping yet, I am trying it. The last injection of botox did not really seem to have an effect, and I notice that it is harder to type and that I find my hand clenching more. It is a sure thing that I have lost strength in my right hand, as the physical therapy tests show that my right hand is 50% weaker than my left hand, and it should be about 10% stronger, as it is my dominant hand. So I'm working with hand putty and exercises daily, therapy twice a week, and continued inquiry into what is really going on. (Both hand therapists think I may have more nerve issues.)

I am thankful that I can crochet some for now, and I hope that this blanket will be a blessing to some baby in the future.



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Walking with the Spirit



This verse hit me in a new way recently. I am a striver, a perfectionist, someone who always senses a need to hustle for worthiness. (As Brene Brown says, "You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.) Lately, I have felt like I am not striving after God's laws enough, not putting enough effort into spiritual disciplines, not sharing my testimony enough. But when I read this verse, following God suddenly became so simple: "Walk by the Spirit." The Spirit indwells believers at the moment of salvation, so I do not even have to chase after something outside myself (Eph 1:13). Rather, I have to fix my eyes on Jesus, walk with Him, and let Him do the work (Heb 12:2).

I am not suggesting that because of the Holy Spirit I have sinless perfection. I am not saying that I cannot sin when I walk with the Spirit, or that I cannot sear my conscience by repeatedly ignoring the Spirit's conviction about sin (1 Tim 4:2). What I am saying is that I think I have been trying to hard, trying to make the fruits of the Spirit a product of my effort instead of a result of me seeking Christ (Gal 5:22). The Christian life is not about striving, but about submitting. I need to do more of the latter and less of the former.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

On Mistakes, Growing, and Moving On

I messed up. The error felt epically huge. And I didn't know what to do other than to own my mistake. But I wanted to fix it, to undo it, to not feel SO terrible about the problem I created. Brene Brown writes that, "When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the annoying back seat driver." I am a perfectionist, a recovering one, I think, yet I keep finding my perfectionism keeps cropping up in new places. And in this situation, it was definitely present because I was definitely afraid, so much that I dreamed about consequences of my mistake for most of the night.

After the night of difficult dreams and haunting reiterations of my mistake, I woke up and read these passages from Sarah Young's Jesus Always:

"I can smooth out all the tangled up places, including those in your mind and heart."

"Be willing to take responsibility for your own mistakes and sin without feeling responsible for the sinful failures of others."

"I am here to help you untangle your complex problems and find the best way to go forward."

"Beware of getting stuck in introspection or obsessing about how to fix things. Instead keep turning to Me, seeking My face and My will."

"Wait with Me, trusting in My timing for unscrambling things and making your way clear."

"Be willing to live with unresolved problems, but don't let them be your focus."



As I read, the Holy Spirit convicted me that my perfectionism was present, even in my shame. I wanted to fix everything...perfectly. I wanted to take all the blame for the problem so that I could find a perfect fix for the issue. I wanted a perfectly pretty resolution. The Spirit clearly showed me that I am not in control. I can only own up to my part of the issue. I cannot take responsibility for the way others respond. The issue at hand might not resolve, or it might not resolve like I want it to resolve. God is in control, not me. He's the only perfect one. I have to let go, admit my imperfection, and let God clean up the rest of the mess. Easier said than done.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Afghan 54

Pinterest is a great place to find baby blanket patterns. (Find my Projects board here.) The book of patterns my friend game me has been wonderful, but something I just want to search for something new. That is how this afghan came to be.



The pattern is baby bean by Left in Knots. The stitch is a variation of cluster and is repeated row after row. (I completed about 108 rows before edging in a single crochet stitch.) For the afghan, I used most of a Super Saver Jumbo skein of petal pink from Red Heart. The finished product measured 22 by 33 inches.

As for my hand, it lets me do about three rows of crochet a day, which is better than nothing when it comes to stress relief. The last shot of botox did not hurt much, but did not seem to help with the clenching and discomfort. The next step is hand therapy with a physical therapist. We'll see how that goes. This focal dystonia might just be something I have to live with.