Girlfriends Review: Authenticity

girlfriendsI find myself striving for perfection more often than I’d like. Just when I think I’ve beaten the temptation to put on airs, I fall victim to false pretense once again. Recently, our family posed for our annual Christmas card pictures, and we had 3 major meltdowns while we got dressed.

I can’t wear this if she’s wearing that!

My hair looks like THIS??!!

Who stole my sweater?

We were bickering and complaining, and then we slapped happy smiles on our faces and posed for the perfect family picture. We wanted perfection (or at least a facade of it), and we allowed that desire to ruin our afternoon.

Why do we do that? Why do we want to present ourselves as “perfect” to a watching world? Why not just be authentic? 

In an age of Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram it seems so much easier to pretend like we have all the answers (thanks google) and do all the craftiest projects (thanks Pinterest). Yet, we struggle to present our authentic selves.

No one wants to post a pic of the pile of dishes in their kitchen sink or a video montage of all the spats our kids have on the way to school. We much prefer showing the “perfect” parts of our lives with a cool filter added to our photographs make others oohhh and ahhhh.

But authenticity requires transparency and admission of failure. It’s truth-telling about all areas of life.

Last night, I hosted Girlfriends (our women’s environment) at Mountain Lake Church as my friend Hannah Whitley talked to us about this very topic. My takeaway from the night:

Perfection is not relatable, but authenticity is. 

None of us are perfect. Let’s just throw that out there. Maybe we choose to withhold this truth and live a false life because we think that we have to be perfect to be liked or valued or accepted.

Matthew 5:48 says, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  The only perfect we need to be is that kind of perfect that Christ calls for us and sets the example to be.  Nothing else. Not perfect like your neighbor who has a blemish-free past. Not perfect like your friend who posts pictures of her house that always looks clean. Not perfect like your favorite blog/Instagram account/Christian author. We have one obligation in life when it comes to perfectionism – IT’S CHRIST.

Do you know what HIS idea of perfect is?

Matthew 22:37-39  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Wow. All other secular ideas of perfectionism fall to the wayside, don’t they?

Let’s stop pretending. Let’s be real with one another. Let’s share where we are struggling in our marriage, in our singledom, in our parenting, and in our faith. Let’s carry each other’s burdens because we have ACTUALLY admitted we have burdens and failures. 

Today, friends, let’s choose to be authentic. Our greatest worth lies in being exactly who God created us to be. Nothing more.

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What I Learned During the Polar Vortex

Each January, WordPress sends me a report complete with info on which posts were popular and how readers found my blog. Since the Polar Vortex has sent me 4 degree weather and I’m trapped under a heated blanket, I thought I’d take some time to review the report. Surfing through the posts of 2013 brought back forgotten memories and lessons, and I’m reminded once again that reflection is good for my soul.

I learned quite a few things this year. Check it out:

A once foreign place has become my home.

I can learn a lot from a 7-year-old. 

You might be a church planter’s wife if….

I can – and should – master my emotions

There are threats against me. 

We all need good counsel.

I should love well….while there’s still time.

Sometimes, my greatest lessons come are revealed in the strangest ways. 

So, if the Polar Vortex has you trapped under a blanket, grab a cup of hot cocoa and read awhile. Maybe these posts will encourage you in some small way. Or, better yet, do a little reminiscing of your own experiences of 2013. Reflection is good for the soul.

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2012 Reflections

2013 is almost here.  Another new year to accomplish goals and meet new people.  Four more seasons.  Anniversaries and birthdays.  I’m sure I’ll pack it full of memories, successes, and failures.  But before I do, I’m looking back over 2012.  I experienced some first’s and some last’s.  Take a look:

In February, I hosted the very first Pastors’ Wives Track at our Velocity 2012 Conference.  It was super cool to invest into the women who serve and lead our churches so well.

In April, my hubby released his book, The Measure of Our Success. We spent the prior summer writing and editing this labor of love and have heard from so many who have been helped by it.

April held another first for me: speaking on stage to 5000 people.  Uh, so unexpected.  Nevertheless, I was honored to speak alongside my husband at the Exponential Conference in Orlando.  And, as a bonus, shaky nerves apparently aids in weight loss.  I lost 3 pounds that week….just in time for swimsuit season.  Thanks, Exponential.

This year, God provided more opportunities for me to write.  I discovered my great love for writing through this blog, and now I get to write for other publications, too.  Check out Flourish.me and FaithVillage.com.  Two fantastic blogs.  And, of course, Up In Cumming magazine lets me teach about God’s love to my very own city.

269 more people were baptized at Mountain Lake Church in 2013.  I stand amazed that God allows my husband and me to lead this great church. My son was one of those 269.  He’s the last Lovejoy kid to become a Christian.  GO, PAUL!

Our summer was THE BOMB with a 3 week vacation!  Thank you, friends, for the free condos and houses to stay in.  We came home refreshed after an extremely busy ministry year. Well tanned, too.

Our family sponsored 2 Compassion International children in Tanzania, Africa.  We’re praying for them and meeting their physical and spiritual needs.  Honestly, though, I think we get more out of it than they do.

And, I tackled a workout program that got me in the best shape of my life, made some (new) life-long friends, and washed (another) iPhone.

So, that’s my year in review.  What about you? Before you make plans for 2013, why not take a few minutes to walk down memory lane? Celebrate what you’ve accomplished or learned.  Praise God for His provision and grace in 2012.  Who knows? Maybe looking over your past will help you plan your future.

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