Tag Archives: shame

Quit Shoulding Yourself!

I was keeping the nursery at church last Sunday and one of the guys that volunteers with me said something that made me laugh, but also made me ponder. He said it jokingly after his wife made a comment about something she should do. He said, “Stop shoulding yourself!” If you say the phrase out loud it may make you chuckle, but it made me think, “Man, isn’t that the truth?”

Want to know what the word “should” does? It’s a good intention that carries a backpack full of shame.

“I should really take them dinner. They’ve been through a lot lately.”

“I should do a bible study.”

“I should really start to work out more.”

“I should start eating healthy so I can lose some weight.”

“I should really call ________ and catch up.”

“I should start memorizing Bible verses.”

“I should volunteer.”

“I should learn a new skill.”

“I should be more intentional about spending time with my husband.”

“I should ________________…”

The list could go on for infinity, am I right?

When did we start living lives of “should dos”? I have a feeling it’s when we started comparing ourselves to other people; so basically it’s been going on forever, but social media has really amped it up. We see pictures of people starting amazing organizations. We see couples going on dates. We see people organizing their lives. We see people growing their businesses. We see parents doing fun things with their kids. We see people having quiet times. We see people in yoga poses. We see it all. The best of every person. Everything. And none of it is bad, but when we start thinking our lives are supposed to look like someone else’s, or really everyone else’s, that’s when it gets sticky. And shouldy. When we consider what we should do, it’s normally based on what someone said we should do or saw someone else doing. Don’t you love it when you tell someone something and they say back, “Well, you know what you should do is….” It’s like unsolicited advice on how to live your life. As if they’re some sort of expert on you. But dangit if I don’t do it too. We have good intentions, we really do, but sometimes people don’t want to be fixed; they’d rather someone just listen. Sometimes we just want to be loved for who we are not what we do. Social media has led us to believe if we’re not doing something amazing with our lives for all the world to see, then our lives must not be post worthy. This is crap.

To be completely honest, I’m not exactly sure what I should be doing with my life. Anyone else live with that uncertainty? Does it consume your thoughts on the daily? Or is it only there when you get quiet right before you go to sleep? It can send you into a tailspin quick as a whip. Many of us just block/busy it out all together so we don’t have to go to that part of our soul. The shoulds can weigh us down and make us feel inadequate in so many parts of our lives that I get why we don’t want to address it. But if we don’t address it, we risk living a life where we don’t value ourselves and how God made us.

I don’t know much, but one thing I’ve learned in the last few months is living underneath “shoulding shame” is not living at all. It’s a life sucking existence. If we ever want to know what God wants us to do, I can guarantee it’s not live with a backpack full of shame bricks. That is not the life He has called us to. He did not send Jesus to the cross so we could spend our lives living in shame.

“But you don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know my thought life. You don’t know my past sins. I try to be a good person but I keep screwing it up. I’ve never done anything with my life. I’m just a regular person; a nobody, really.”

Maybe these statements are how you feel about yourself. We say nastier things to ourselves than we do our worst enemies. We are so unkind to ourselves. We know God loves us but we have a hard time believing that don’t we?

We know the gospel is: Jesus died to forgive our sins and if we believe in Him we have eternal life.

But we live like: Jesus died to forgive our sins and if we believe in Him and do a lot of good things and are really good Christians, we have eternal life.

Nope. Not the gospel.

The beauty of the gospel is it leaves out all the shoulds. And do you know what happens when you live without the shoulds? You’re free. You are free to live, knowing you’re beloved by the God who created you. And guess what:  He loves you for no other reason than He created you.

In Psalms 139:14, it says:

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

God made us wonderfully from the beginning. He knew us. He hemmed us in. He saw our unformed substance. He laid His hand upon us. He is a good Father who loves His kids. Our souls know it very well.

Quit shoulding yourself. Live with the knowledge that you are loved. When we live like we’re loved, we can begin living a life of want to, instead of should do.

When’s the last time you just sat and let God love on you? If you don’t know how to let God love on you, go read Psalm 139. I pray it leaves you feeling loved, known, and near to the Father.

-Courtney

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15 Things I Know Now That I’m 37

What I Know at 37

  1. 37 doesn’t feel as old as what my 15 year old self would have me believe.
  2. The best friends I had when I was 17 are still my best friends.
  3. Friends I’ve made in adulthood are fewer and farther between but they are genuine and life-giving.
  4. Having kids has made me a better person.
  5. Going to counseling doesn’t mean you’re crazy, or weak, or on the brink of divorce.
  6. Spiritual growth is never easy or without pain.
  7. Marriage requires love AND work and if you don’t believe me you’re fooling yourself.
  8. Marry someone who is going to be your biggest fan, not your biggest critic.
  9. Kids’ taste buds are liars…everything I cook isn’t “DISGUSTING!”
  10. Just because you start on one path doesn’t mean you can’t veer off onto another; that may have been God’s plan all along.
  11. Shame is a sneaky son of a gun that must be dealt with in order for me to love myself.
  12. I will never know how my parents raised 4 kids, who were involved in multiple activities, without cell phones.
  13. Choosing your battles is a great piece of advice for marriage…and for parenting.
  14. God values BEING with me over anything I could ever DO for Him.
  15. I’ve only got 3 years to lose my baby leftovers because I’ve heard that once you hit 40, losing weight is an uphill battle. Maybe yoga pants and joggers will still be in when I’m 40. And, yes, I’m aware my youngest child is 8. I’m on that really, really long-term weight loss plan.

What are some things you know at your age?

-Courtney

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A Letter to the Mamas,

I’m writing this to you because I think you need to hear it, but I’m also writing it to me so I don’t forget.

Hey, you. Yeah, I know you don’t have time for this. You need to get out the door and nobody has their coats or shoes on, and Baby has decided to take his pants off and run around the room. You’re going to be late to the kids’ doctor’s appointment and if it’s by more than 15 minutes they’ll make you reschedule. You’d think a pediatrician’s office would be more FLEXIBLE since, I don’t know, their dealing with CHILDREN WHO CAN’T DO ONE BLESSED THING FOR THEMSELVES SO HOW ON EARTH ARE YOU EXPECTED TO BE ON TIME? Anyway, by now you’ve gotten their coats and shoes on and Baby has on hand-me-down jeans from who knows where and you’re getting them in the car. Now one of them is crying because somebody hit her and Baby is whining and arching his back making it nearly impossible to buckle him into his car seat. As you use your best stern Mom voice to tell them “hands are not for hitting,” you notice you forgot to wipe of Baby’s face from breakfast and he has sticky syrup on his cheeks that has attracted every dirt particle from your home. He basically looks like a homeless baby. So you grab a wet wipe from the diaper bag and wipe his face off which makes him scream and you try to comfort him but you’re late so you figure he’ll get over it and jump into your seat. As you turn on your kids’ music or show, you find yourself starting to zone out.

This is where you need to listen, Moms.

As you begin to tune out all the car chatter, the voices in your head may take you down those old familiar roads. They are like a corn maze you can’t get out of. On your first turn, you head down the “What am I doing with my life?” path, then you take a right onto “Is this what motherhood is supposed to look like?” then hang a left on “Endless fighting and whining is not what I signed up for,” then merge onto “Am I even doing a good job?,” then you make a hard right onto “I suck at being a mom.” Then you’re basically there.

“Where?” you ask.

Right in the place the devil wants you. A place of vulnerability. A place where you’re so unsure of who you are and what your purpose is you are desperate for someone to tell you. So he does. He whispers things like, “No, you’re not really a good mom because what good mom yells at her kids/lets them watch THAT much TV/loses her temper/can’t get her kids to eat healthy foods/can’t get her kids to behave in public/doesn’t want to spend every second having “intentional” time with her kids/scrolls through her phone THAT many times a day/(fill in the blank with anything else that makes you feel like a crappy mom)…

And then the devil takes his toxic shame coat and drapes it over your shoulders and that’s how you live. Covered in shame.

This is where you need to listen, ladies.

Don’t let shame make you forget who you are.

Don’t forget that you are the woman that fed your kids today, you helped them get dressed, you held them when they cried, you listened when they told you about their day, you gave them encouragement when they doubted themselves, you washed their clothes, you picked them up when they needed to be held, you laid with them so they could fall asleep, you read them books, you helped with homework, you got them new jeans because theirs were getting a bit too short, you signed them up for camps, you made doctors’ appointments for them, you put money on their lunch card, you prayed for them, you prayed with them, you told her that she most certainly could not wear shorts that short, you said no to the party that was sketchy on the details, you called them out when they were being less than kind, you pointed them to Jesus with loving words, you corrected them and loved them, YOU DID SO MANY IMPORTANT THINGS.

Don’t forget that the God who made ALL the people gave you a few of His own to raise; because He knew you’d be the perfect fit for them. He chose YOU. He knew you would need help and He knew you would screw it up and He was ok with that.

See, the thing is, as much as we forget who we are sometimes, God doesn’t. If we have been saved through faith in Jesus, the Word says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

I believe being a mom is good work. It can be exhausting and wonderful and mundane and sweet and aggravating and beautiful and just plain hard. Lots of times being a mom doesn’t feel good. When we feel like all we do is discipline and say no, it doesn’t really feel that awesome to be a mom. But my feelings are all over the place sometimes so it helps to go back to the Truth. “for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Prv. 3:12)

Aaaaahhhhh. Nice to know that all our reproving means that we actually LOVE our kids…contrary to what our kids may say. We’re just trying to point them to Jesus and keep them out of juvie, am I right?

All that to say… Moms, you’re doing a good job. What you’re doing matters. I see you and you are good enough. Actually, scratch that. You are excellent. Now go forth into battle and don’t forget to put snacks in your purse.

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(This pic was taken many years ago but it reminds me that winter with littles is HARD.)

-Courtney

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Spa Day

I had such a unique spa experience when I went to Mexico a couple of weeks ago I thought I would share it with you. I know it seems cruel since you won’t physically BE at the spa but I feel like you will be rejuvenated in mind, body, and spirit after reading this.

Ok, go to your quiet place and free your mind of all your stress. Moms of toddlers, this just means turn on Sesame Street for your kids, give them a snack, and lock yourself in the bathroom. I know how it works.

When I walk into the spa and give the man my name, he says, “So you’re here for the Radiance Restore Rejuvenation Refresh Relaxation Redeemer Ricola massage?” Those may not have been his exact words but whatever he said had a lot of r’s in the title. Not knowing which massage I paid for I just said yes. I mean, a massage is a massage…or so I thought.

 

I meet my massage therapist, Ilda, and she tells me to disrobe and get under the sheet and lie face down. And like the few other times I’ve had a massage, I get down to my undies and get under the sheet. Ilda comes in and she begins to do a little all over pat down, then she takes one of my legs out from under the sheet and begins lightly rubbing a Brillo pad over it.

Are you shocked I said Brillo pad? Yes, that was my initial reaction too. See, I’ve never had a Brillo pad massage before so you can imagine my surprise when she begins to systematically do this over the entire backside of my body sans booty.

After she had scrubbed me down with the pan brush, she took coarse sand and began sanding down all the parts that had just been scrubbed. I couldn’t tell if this was a massage or if she was preparing to stain me like a wooden coffee table. All I knew was I was thanking my sweet Jesus in heaven that I wasn’t sunburned or I would’ve been in tears at this point.

After the sanding, she rubbed me down with some sort of jelly. I don’t even know. My face is in the doughnut. I’m completely helpless. Then, with the jelly on, she has me flip over onto my back.

Now this is when things start going to a weird place that I can’t unremember.

If you’ve had a massage before, you know that what they do on one part, they do on all the parts. So I was bracing myself as Ilda began to Brillo pad my arms. Now, something that came as a surprise was when sweet, little Ilda raised my arm and took the Brillo pad to my armpit.

I’ll give you a minute.

She is literally scrubbing my armpit. (Oh, I forgot to mention, when I turned over, Ilda placed a towel over my eyes so I couldn’t see what she was doing. Now I know why.) Guys, I couldn’t even. I started laughing. Like giggle laughing because OH MY GOSH IT TICKLED AND I WAS EMBARASSED AND IT WAS TOTALLY AWKWARD!! Then ILDA started laughing and I was done. I kept thinking, “This is what I do to my children before they go to bed! What is even happening?!”

After I quasi recovered (because let’s face it, after the Tickle Monster, there was really no going back to a peaceful state), Ilda did something even more surprising. You need to remember I’m blindfolded so I can’t see what she’s doing. She ever so stealthily places some sort of washcloth to cover my chest and pulls the sheet down below my belly button but above my lady parts.

YOU GUYS, SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS HAPPENING?! First of all, she may as well have put one square of toilet paper over my chest for what the washcloth was covering. When I lie down, so do the girls. To say it was a nip slip would be a gross understatement. (Sorry Dad.)

Then she did something even my husband is forbidden to do.

She rubbed my stomach. With the Brillo pad.

It happened.

I’m so ashamed.

She continued by rubbing sand on my soft belly WITH HER HANDS, then after wiping that off, she slathered jelly all over my tummy tum. Like a biscuit. And that is where I died. Part of me will never be the same after that. I didn’t even know what to do. Ilda had put her hands on my stomach pooch and our relationship would never be the same. At that point, I was just grateful I had a washcloth over my eyes because there would be no eye contact with Ilda after the tummy rub.

After she made my stomach a glazed doughnut, she pulled the sheet up and wrapped me in it, then put some heavier electric blanket on me. The only thing showing was my face. I felt like a caterpillar in a sticky cocoon. I half wondered if I would have wings when I came out. She left me there for several minutes to “relax.” Thanks, Ilda, you know just how I like to relax.

When she returned, she asked me to get up so she could walk me over to the relaxation tub. One would assume she would wrap me in a towel. One would be wrong. Why would she wrap me in a towel when she could just hold one up while I try to awkwardly cover myself with my hands as I walk over to the tub? I don’t even know why I bothered trying to be modest. It really wasn’t necessary after all she’d seen my nips and rubbed my belly. So I get in the warm, soaker tub and Ilda left for probably 10 minutes or so. It actually was quite tranquil until my bladder remembered what warm water makes me do. Guys, I tried to hold it. I really did but I’m getting older, and I’ve had 3 babies, and the water was really, really warm, and there were jets, and water sounds, and I just let a little bitty bit out. After that I just sat in my diluted teetee water, waiting for Ilda to come in so we could finish whatever this was. She came back and had me lay back down on the table and, thankfully, did what seemed like a normal massage. Of course all of the restfulness was moot after everything that had happened. When she had finished, I thanked her, without eye contact, got dressed, packed up what was left of my dignity, and walked out.

Then I ran back to my hotel room to make bullet points of what had just happened so I could write about it later. This is later. Sorry it was a long read but, my gosh, there was so much I couldn’t leave out! I hope you are a little more rested and light-hearted after reading this. Now go on with your day feeling blessed that a grown woman has never massaged your belly as a relaxation technique.

Anyone else had an out of ordinary spa experience?

-Courtney

P.S. I’ve still got copies of Rooster’s Balloon if you want to order one! Go up to the Purchase tab and order one today!

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What Anxiety and Fear tell me

 

Publishing a book and marketing it feels like I’m standing in a fire. To say it makes me “uncomfortable” would be the understatement of my life. Social media is easy; I can sit and hide behind my computer and promote the book all the livelong day. Doing a signing, or a reading, or most recently, a radio show, gives me the sweats and the gags. On my way to any of these events, I sweat and feel tingly all over and fear I might pass out. It’s in these moments that I pray as profusely as I sweat. Asking God for help, guidance, words, anything that will ease my current condition. I have never been more aware of my need for God’s presence and peace in my life. It has occurred to me over the last month that God will not lead us into a fire where He Himself will not go. Sometimes fire is where we find God. Growth in my faith has never happened when my life has been easy. I love easy, but my problem is that easy makes me real proud of myself. I get puffed up and think my life is working out this way because I did something to make it this way. No, you misguided little thing, you had nothing to do with it at all.

So as much as I love a cake life, it’s not where God is. God is in the hard places and if I want to be with Him, I’ve got to go there too. Right now, God, in my life, is sitting squished between Anxiety and Fear and He’s calling me to meet Him there. God is sitting smack dab in the middle of the 2 things in my life that tell me I CAN’T. I don’t like sitting in between Anxiety and Fear; they’re bullies and they lie. They tell me my nerves WILL get the best of me. They tell me I WILL screw it up. They tell me that no one wants to hear what I have to say. They tell me all the same things they’ve told me before. Their central message is: You aren’t good enough to do the things you want to do so you shouldn’t even try.

But God.

But God tells me in Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.”

Then I’m reminded of what God’s word says about work in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

How can I believe the lies of Anxiety and Fear when God clearly tells me that He will help me? He’s also told me that I am His handiwork and He’s got stuff for me to do here. Who am I to say His handiwork, His creation, is not good enough to do His work? If He created me to do it, He must feel pretty confident that with His help, I can accomplish the task set before me.

Then God reminds me of the most important thing: It’s not about me at all, it’s about Him. It’s my responsibility to obey. That’s it. The successes or failures of my pursuits in life aren’t measured by the world. My successes and failures are measured by whether or not I choose to follow His leading. The minute I judge success by the world’s standards is the minute my soul gets antsy and full of unrest. This is when I try to take over and make my pursuits just that—MY pursuits. When I assume all responsibility for a task, one of two things will happen. I will either get prideful because I’m experiencing some success or I will feel shame because I’m experiencing failure. Pride or shame. These are my options when I’m in charge.

When I take the time to remember that my only job is to say “yes” and He’ll take care of the rest, I’m able to breath. I still sweat of course, but I like to think of it as fear leaving my body. It’s really unfortunate I have so much fear leaving my underarms; I may never wear colored clothing again. It’s freeing to be able to hand the pressure over to God and say “Here, this is on you now.” Unlike us, God has never felt pressure in His entire existence. He’s not worried that we’re going to screw up His work. We don’t have the whole story so what may look like failure to us, may just be God writing humility, not shame, into our story. For the record, these are my least favorite writing segments from the Lord but they are awfully good teachers.

So that’s where I’m at, guys. Right in between Fear and Anxiety, waiting for God to quiet their shouting.

 

Where is God sitting in your life?

-Courtney

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