Follow Through Is Tough

Taking God up on an invitation can be difficult, but even when it feels easy the follow-through can be tough. Just two days ago I met with the local print shop I use to produce my planner and I was so excited I posted an Instagram Story. I shared that God spoke over me that I am creative because I was made in His image. I talked about how I never considered myself creative or artistic but in one day I would be working on a planner I created from scratch and new designs for my shop. When God reminded me of everything I would be creating in one day it hit me that I never considered myself to be creative because I was using a particular definition of creative and I simply didn’t fit it. At the close of the IG story, I encouraged anyone watching it to not look to others for validation when it comes to creative endeavors but to the One who calls us His own.

But today, I find myself comparing what I’ve got to others. I’m worried that people won’t know how to use the planner so I want to include some “how to” images or maybe even videos on here or YouTube. But when I start looking at the “how to” things others have shared I think mine just wouldn’t measure up. And that type of thinking opens the door to all kinds of doubt and second-guessing. Did God really call me to make and sell these planners? Should I really be trying to sell these to people outside of my circle of family and friends?

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So here I am, working at my kitchen table struggling to trust that if I’m obedient to the call then God will bless me. And not with the things we’re told by the world are blessings. Isn’t that a trip that we, as children of God, can easily get caught up in thinking God will bless us according to the world’s definition of being blessed? When I say God will bless me when I’m obedient I’m referring to the things only He can give – joy, peace, freedom, patience and all the other Fruit of His Spirit.

Why am I sharing this instead of working on the planner? Real talk – I’m waiting on my Creative Cloud to update and when I started to throw an internal fit I got honest and recognized it was God allowing me the time and space to share this. If God has called you to something trust that He will provide what you need. What you put out will be what God intended for you to put out. It may not “measure up” to what others have put out. Cool. Create it anyway. How you produce it or share with people may not “measure up” to others’ platforms or ways of sharing. Cool. Share it anyway.

#PreachingToMyself

A Guide To Grace-Filled Living®

Back in 2013 I had just started blogging but had no clue what I was doing or why God called me into the blogosphere. Around the same time that I started Catalyst Movement, a girlfriend recommended I pick up the newest book by Jon Acuff, Start. I related to Jon’s humor but also the role fear had played in my life by keeping me from starting projects. But as I continued to read through the book God kept speaking to me about finishing. He said I was pretty bold when it came to taking him up on His invitations to start something but I didn’t often follow through. Before I could even begin to object He turned my attention to a bookcase – case, not shelf – that was full of books I had excitedly started only to stop a few chapters in and never pick up again. And there were the scrapbooking and calligraphy projects I started but never finished. And the planners and journals. Don’t get me started on the planners and journals.

When I finished Start I was so excited I think I posted a photo on Instagram to commemorate the occasion. Soon after I finished the book God invited me to create a one hundred-day challenge encouraging others to simply Finish The Work God has invited them to do. It was the first time I had done anything like it and I have no idea if anyone besides me completed the challenge. While it felt good to not only take God up on the invitation but to see it through, I didn’t think much about the project once I completed it.

In the fall of 2014, shortly after I returned to work from maternity leave with the twins, God brought up the idea of finishing the work again but in a completely unexpected way. He invited me to make a planner for people like me. Growing up I believed the lie that I couldn’t get stuff done; that at best I was a procrastinator and at worst I was lazy. The truth is I was a perfectionist who was afraid of failing, but even more so of mediocrity. Who wants to work their booty off just to be okay? But when I waited until the last possible minute to churn out a paper or whip up a project and I earned a B or even a C, how could I possibly complain? How could anyone judge me? And let’s be real, no one was judging me. Well, except maybe my twelfth grade AP English teacher.

Unfortunately, I lived under the weight of perfectionism and procrastination for years before seeing it for what it is – a lie from the pit of hell trying to keep me from doing what God invites me to do. Sounds dramatic? Probably, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Think about it, the enemy can’t snatch me from God’s grasp. My salvation isn’t up for grabs. But my walk, my obedience, my light, my testimony – they can all be downplayed to the point where they are almost nonexistent if I am so focused on living out life perfectly that I become paralyzed and don’t answer God’s call.

It took me four years from getting the invitation from God to getting the planner printed. I am not a graphic designer by any means and the planner isn’t perfect. But I did the dang thang to the best of my ability. And while I’ve sought the input of others (still recovering from people-pleasing), ultimately God has been the editor and chief designer of this bad boy. And I gotta be honest I’m really proud of the work I’ve done with the planner. Not even as the creator, but more as a user of the planner. Never before have I consistently used a planner like I’ve used this one. When I’ve “missed” a day I don’t get in my head about it because the pages are steeped in grace.

I’ve included some photos of pages from the current edition so you can get a feel for the planner. Changes made for the second edition – got rid of the tabs, the front cover is a colorful image (no title), the front and back covers are laminated for improved sturdiness, and further improve sturdiness we went from a wire spiral to a plastic one. The second edition of A Guide To Grace-Filled Living: A Planner For Procrastinating Perfectionists® runs from September of 2019 through February of 2020 and includes monthly, weekly, and daily planning as well as space for goal setting, progress tracking, verses, and prayers.  If you have questions about the planner please feel free to leave them in the comment section.

 

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Month At A Glance
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Week At A Glance
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Daily
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Two Page Spread of #AllTheThings and Finish The Work

 

 

The Trouble With Lauren Daigle

It’s us.  Our self-righteous, holier than thou, stance.  Our brazen disregard for God’s word when we decide to publically denounce her, and any other believers we don’t agree with.  When Lauren Daigle, and other believers in the public domain do not behave as we believe they should behave, we see our own humanity and brokenness and we call it out.  Because let’s be real, it’s easier – less messy, less work, less painful – to see the speck in someone else’s eye than to deal with the plank in our own.

Back in the fall of 2018 Lauren performed the first single, Still Rolling Stones, off of her sophomore album, Look Up Child, on The Ellen Show.  It was her debut performance on the show.  I didn’t watch the performance live, because I didn’t know about it.  I got to watch the replay on YouTube and I was absolutely blown away.  I’m not a big fan of daytime television so I’m not certain that Lauren was the first Christian artist to perform on the show, but I know she could only be one of a handful, as not many Christian artists enjoy crossover success without going pop.

Lauren Daigle On Ellen

As I watched, I belted out the words with her.  But even as loudly as I was singing I could hear God bragging as only a proud Father can, “Look at her!  She’s singing a song declaring my grace, and mercy, and resurrection power on a nationally televised show hosted by an openly gay woman.  I did this.  I made this happen.  I put her on that stage.”  And at the end of the song, Ellen came up to Lauren and announced everyone in the audience was getting a copy of Look Up Child.  My jaw dropped and God said, “Are you seeing this?  Ellen used her own money to purchase a CD for everyone in her audience.  A CD full of songs all about Me!”  Tears streamed down my face.  God showed up and He showed off that day.

But then the backlash came.  People lambasted Lauren for her appearance as well as her song choice.  How dare she call herself a Christian and appear on an openly gay woman’s show? they wondered.  I read that comment over and over on different sites and felt so confused, angry, and embarrassed even.  I yelled at my phone or laptop “Because God opened the door for her to be on there!”

Then the drama came.  At what seemed to be the height of the backlash, Lauren was interviewed by a radio personality known for stirring up controversy and was asked about her performance on Ellen and the fallout that followed.  He asked her about her personal thoughts on homosexuality being a sin.  People did not like her answer.  It was, admittedly, indirect.  She didn’t openly call homosexuality a sin.  People were outraged.  While I didn’t personally agree with the words she used, I totally related to the situation in which she found herself.  I spent the better part of 2018 avoiding topics God wanted me to share with people.  And the platform I have is minuscule compared to hers.  I can only imagine the thoughts whirling through her head as she was thinking of a response to the direct question about whether she thought homosexuality is a sin.  Did she skirt the question?  I don’t think so.  I think she answered it honestly.  And she was publically judged for it.

God invited me to write a blog post about it but I ignored Him.  It was one of the controversial topics I didn’t want to talk about.  From time to time Holy Spirit would remind me of the invitation but I brushed Him off.  I argued that the moment had passed.  It would be silly for me to write about it when people had probably already forgotten about it.  But then Twitter was all abuzz with Lauren related posts  – again declaring that she isn’t really a Christian – following her Billboards performance last Sunday.

You Say On Billboard Awards

Why are we, as believers, so quick to beat one another up?  I constantly hear about believers being persecuted by the world, but it’s so often us who are doing the dirty work of the deceiver, not the world.  When not if, we don’t agree with something a fellow believer says or does, the last thing we should do is grab our pitchforks and publically rake him or her over the proverbial coals.  God says in His word that the world will know we are His followers by the love we show one another.  How is it loving to publically question someone’s faith?  How loving is it to use social media to judge someone and call them out their name?  It.  Simply.  Isn’t. (mentally insert hand clap emoji)

After the whole Ellen controversy, I listened to Look Up Child with new ears.  It wasn’t something I did intentionally, but God pricked my ears and showed me how the songs He gave Lauren for the album were songs she needed to hear during the season she was in.  She needed to preach to her soul, much like David did, to remember God’s faithfulness during times of doubt.

Last month, two of my students asked if they could play a song during independent practice time.  Before I could answer, one of the girls, who happens to be openly gay, said, “Mrs. Floyd, it’s a Christian song!”  I asked the title and they both announced “You Say” with such excitement on their faces.  I shook my head and chuckled as I said, “Oh, that’s a song from Lauren Daigle.”  Even though I only play Christian artists, they were impressed that I knew the song.  Apparently, Lauren Daigle had been experiencing some crossover success, with the song being played on secular stations.  I’m not saying that Lauren is a modern day Esther, but it is clear to me that God is using her the giftings He bestowed upon her – her ability to write and the voice she uses to share her lyrics.

Look Up Child

If you haven’t already listened to the album in its entirety, I pray that you would do so with a soft heart, open mind, and unstiffened neck.

Charm VoxBox Review

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Every so often I qualify to receive a box of samples to test and review, free of charge from Influenester.  I’m never disappointed by the boxes I receive because there is always at least one product I end up loving that I would have otherwise never heard of or would have been too reluctant to try.

 

This has to be my favorite VoxBox to date, though, as I loved most of the products.  It included two perfume samples from a Vera Wang collection, a shampoo and conditioner set from EVA NYC, and full-sized products from Mott’s, Wet n Wild, PEEPS, and McCormick.

Vera Wang Embrace

Vera Wang Embrace

Let me preface this review by stating that I am not a perfume kinda girl.  I’m more of a crunchy chica at heart and I’ve been using the same perfumed oils I bought back when I followed Phish before their hiatus in the early 2000’s.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve purchased different perfumes over the years, but I never quite found my signature scent.  So I stuck with the oils.  And lately I’ve been using Progressence Plus from Young Living (awesome by the way) and I haven’t had the patience to wait for its pleasant scent to wear off in order to apply perfume, oil or spray.

But that’s exactly what I did in order to try the samples of Embrace by Vera Wang.  And I’m so happy I did.  Rose Buds and Vanilla starts off a bit strong, but within minutes settles into what reminded me of a subtle bouquet of flowers.  It totally smells like spring, but without the nuisance of pollen-induced allergies.  Oh, but the Marigold and Gardenia is definitely my favorite.  It too, starts off a bit strong, but it’s never off putting.  As it reacted to my body temperature, it smelled like jasmine.  It wasn’t until I looked at the name of the sample that I noticed it was in fact gardenia I was smelling, not jasmine.  It reminded me of summers in Hawaii and spending time with my grandma.  If you like floral + spicy scents this is the perfect perfume for you.

Wet n Wild 1 Sep WonderGel

I am a mother of three boys which means I wash my hands.  A lot.  And throw in frequent washing of dishes and you can understand why I rarely put in the effort to keep my nails polished.  I tried gel polishes when they first hit the shelves of my local CVS, but I wasn’t too impressed.  The brand I tried started to chip along the tips of my nails within the first day, but took way too much effort to take off with nail polish remover.

Not so with this bottle, which is a 2016 Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner.  It lasted a whopping two days before starting to chip, but it came off with ease when I was ready to remove it.  I loved my experience so much that I bought a bottle of….  It came off just as effortlessly as the bottle from my Charm VoxBox, but it did leave a bit of a stain on my nails.  Not a deal breaker, though, because the stain faded fairly quickly.  I plan on buying a bottle in a summer coral before my next trip to the beach.

My only small complaint has nothing to do with the quality of the polishes, but the names Wet n Wild chooses to use for them.  While I’m sure the marketing department is just trying to be cheeky, the names can be a bit risque.

EVA NYC Clean It Up Shampoo and Therapy Session Hair Mask

EVA NYC Clean It Up Shampoo Therapy Session Hair Mask

I really wanted to like these products.  But as a curly girl, I just can’t give them the FFMS stamp of approval.  The Clean It Up Shampoo touts itself as being created for ALL hair types, but it’s simply too stringent for my thick and curly hair.  Thick hair, especially thick and curly hair, tends to be dry because it’s difficult for moisture to make its way down from the roots to the ends.  And one of the first ingredients listed is sodium laurel sulfate, which is great for getting hair super clean, but notorious for stripping away hair’s natural oils in the process.

At first glance the Therapy Session Hair Mask sounds like it would be curly girl friendly.  But a quick read of the ingredient list shows it’s full of silicones.  And while I’m sure you can find some site on the Interwebs in support of silicone-filled hair products, this curly girl has personally found my hair to be much healthier since I gave them up.

Final verdict: If you are looking to deep clean your hair and add shine, then this is a good option.  If you want to leave your hair’s natural oils in tact, look for a duo that’s sulfate and silicone free.

Mott’s Unsweetened Applesauce Pouch

Mott's Unsweetened Applesauce

My boys love these – all three of them.  They make a great snack and after meal treat because they’re nutritious and aren’t too filling. So, when only one sample showed up in my VoxBox, I knew I had to keep it out of sight until I was able to buy more.  Fortunately for me, Publix had a BOGO sale on them and I bought several boxes.  A quick search of the Mott’s site shows they have several unsweetened options, so I’ll need to ask my local Publix to up their game and carry more than just the unsweetened apple flavor.

McCormic Organics Taco Mix

McCormick Organics Taco Seasoning Mix

I’ve been wanting to make tacos lately, but ever since we started exclusively eating grass fed beef, I can’t bring myself to use traditional, chemical-laden, taco mixes.  So you can imagine just how excited I was when I saw this packet in my VoxBox.  I used it in a post-Cinco de Mayo meal and the boys loved it.  My oldest said it was a little spicy, but not hot.  Which means it has all the right flavoring without the over the top heat.  And since the twins each wanted seconds this is a winner in my books.

PEEPS Delights

Peeps Delights Coconut Dipped Dark Chocolate

Oh. My. Sweet tooth.  Real talk, I hated PEEPS when I was growing up.  I thought they looked pretty in my Easter basket, but I never enjoyed them.  They were always more colorful than they were flavorful.  When I opened my VoxBox and saw the iconic PEEPS I figured I would put one in each of my boys’ Easter basket.  But as I picked up the package something caught my attention – COCONUT.  I love coconut.  And upon closer inspection I noticed the bottom of each PEEP was dipped in chocolate.  Say what?!?  So there was no way these were making it into any Easter basket.

I can’t speak for the other Delights flavors – blueberry, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate mousse, raspberry, milk chocolate, dark chocolate – but the coconut and chocolate made a perfect pairing.  A little too sweet for me, but yummy just the same.  And it’s been years since I put a PEEP in my mouth, so I have to ask, was the granulated sugar always so noticeable on one’s tongue?

My only real complaint about this particular flavor of PEEPS is that none of my local stores  carried them.  I could have ordered them online, but I just wasn’t willing to put that kind of effort into getting seasonal candy.

Charm VoxBox

Influenster Charm VoxBox

This really has to be my favorite box of products to test that Influenster has sent me to date.  If you’ve already tried any of these products, or do in the future, I’d love to hear about your experience!

Importance vs. Significance

My sister in ministry, Amia, tagged me in a photo she posted on Instagram.  It was a repost of a post that a friend of  Whitney English sent her (gotta love social media).  Whitney’s take on the picture was included in the repost.  I tried reposting the original image along with my thoughts, but the upload kept failing.

I wanted to curse IG for not letting me post but knew it was God telling me to get over my fear of blogging and just share my thoughts here.  For some reason I think that people expect less from the writing that accompanies pictures on Instagram than they do from a blog post.  Just whispers from the enemy.  I don’t remember what I wrote verbatim, but it was something like this…

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I want to leave a legacy of a life based on the characteristics of someone having significance.  God calls us to live in community.  With him and each other.  Real community can only be built when people care more about significance than importance.  But community building is hard.  It requires humility, vulnerability, and honesty.

Being humble involves admitting I don’t have all the answers, when I feel that I should have it all together at this point in my life.  {How frustrating is it that it is is always changing?}  Being vulnerable means I have to let my guard down, admitting how badly I want to be loved for who I am.  As difficult as those two are, I think that being honest is the hardest of them all.  Because when I lay it all on the line I may not be enough.

Here’s the thing.  While I desperately want to find and grow my tribe – you know, those women who just get you and are on a similar path as you are – I’m afraid of rubbing up against the people who are more concerned with their importance than significance. That fear tempts me to bypass humility, vulnerability, and honesty – specifically when it comes to social media.  Some days I’d like nothing more than to post photos that make it seem like I’ve arrived.

Because nothing will make me feel like I’m back in high school faster than when I follow God’s lead and I feel like I’m the only one. When I start to take the opinions of others too personally, God reminds me that He has set me apart, not aside. {I totally thought of that scene in Dirty Dancing “No one puts baby in the corner” as I typed that.  You too? Awesome.}

He reminds me to stop gauging my significance by my importance.  It’s super tempting to weigh my impact by follows, likes, and comments.  It can be so disappointing (if I let it) when I follow God’s prompting and pour my heart out only to hear crickets.  But my obedience in following His prompting is a reward in itself.  I need to remember that.

God put me in check recently about the whole fixation with follows, likes, and comments.  I was washing dishes and thinking about my Instagram account.  Very softly, free of condemnation, the Holy Spirit whispered “You don’t have followers.  I have followers.”  Ouch.  And when I thought I couldn’t feel any more convicted He said, “And why do you think you need thousands anyway?  I had tweleve.”  Double ouch.