just write life · Margin Mom · motherhood · writing

Definitely Not All That and a Bag of Chips

Let me tell you one of my absolute favorite reasons for attending writers conferences. Not only do I get to hang with my awesome friends whose minds work a good bit like mine, not only do I get to take classes from really smart people who become awesome friends, and not only do I get to network with awesome industry professionals who encourage and give me guidance,

I get respect.

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Some of my people. Aren’t they fun? Hannah Hall, Hannah Brock, Lyndsey Hulen, and Janet Surrette.

I’ve got a few bylines, great connections, and a job in publishing which means people approach me as a professional. Newbies ask me for advice and they want to talk this motherhood-writing-publishing-loving Jesus gig with me as if I know some secret they don’t.

Here’s what I know. I’m not all that and a bag of chips.

I’m a harried mom who has never really learned the art of simply playing with my kids.

I’m a stretched writer because I want to fulfill my creative endeavors and pay my bills.

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With Bruce Stewart, one of our prolific Splickety writers.

I’m a published author because of grace and maybe a little raw talent, but mostly a whole lot of right place at the right time.

Yeah, definitely not as together as I’d like to appear.

Two Saturdays ago I taught an online class about finding time to write. I had tried and true tips, funny anecdotes, and good connections to pass on to these writers.

But this past Saturday afternoon I cried hot streaming tears so hard and so fast, my daughters rubbed my shoulders and told me to just take my computer into the bedroom and close the door and work.

Because I had run out of time to finish edits to my never-existing satisfaction and my morning had not gone as planned and it’s the first week of summer and I’d gotten up early every day to work and I was so, so tired.

When I spoke with my editor she gave me some beautiful advice. “God doesn’t want your perfection, Lindsey. He wants your excellence.”

There’s a difference.

Perfection doesn’t exist for flawed, broken people. We can’t be perfect because that unattainable quality is reserved for the great Creator God. What we can be is givers of excellence, strivers of offering only our best, lovers of good works that resonate with souls.

And perfection actually doesn’t resonate with mine.

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The lovely Lucinda McDowell who is helping me market my novel and wrote my current favorite devotional, Dwell.

So I quit fiddling for now and sent in my manuscript. And I got a lot honest with myself. I’m terrified of the expectations I’ve heaped upon this book. But all I can do is the best I have right now, at this moment.

And that might not be good enough for some people. Everyone’s not going to love this novel that’s getting birthed from a small publishing house with a lot of wise people helping me along this journey.

Sort of like, everyone doesn’t read this blog. Everyone doesn’t think I’m all that. Everyone doesn’t believe I really have it all together.

And those might be the people I’m most grateful for. Because they push me to strive beyond my “good enough” and find that place where I can be excellent. And then they challenge me to find it over and over, again and again.

But never expect perfection. That’s a death trap of comparison and joy-stealing and self-hatred.

Perfection belongs to Christ. And we belong to Him.

faith · perfectly imperfect · writing

Don’t Borrow Trouble

Sometimes, and I hope this is no secret to those of you who read my posts regularly, I get overwhelmed. I struggle with unrealistic expectations of perfection and knowing my limits. But I’m learning, all the time. This past February, I met Ashley at FCWC, and we clicked over blogging, WordPress glitches, and being big sisters. She’s tech-savvy and smart, witty and wise, and a joy to bring to my corner today.

Oh, and she’s the reason I figured out how to add a Newsletter subscriber page.

DontWorry

Do you ever imagine the person God wants you to be?

My perfect self is more compassionate and kind; she’s a better daughter, friend, and wife; she reads her Bible daily, prays always, and is completely focused on God.

My perfect self is a pretty cool chick.

I’m not there yet.

The Process

I know this is who God wants me to be, and I’m working on it. But, while my salvation was complete the moment I believed, being perfected by God is a process, or a journey.

Like any significant journey, we can’t start and finish in one day. In fact, God seems to have a plan for how far we should go each day and what we should accomplish along the way.

This is great news! Why?

The Steps

There is a huge gap between who I am today and who I’m meant to be. When I focus on that gap, I get overwhelmed and want to give up. But when God breaks it into small steps and reveals each step to me as I need it from moment to moment…well, that’s more doable.

I didn’t have to be the perfect friend or daughter today; I just needed to visit with my mentor and call Mom on the drive home. I don’t have to publish a book today; I just need to write a few sentences each day.

These are small steps, but they’re part of the greater journey.

No Skipping Ahead!

Sometimes I get excited and want to skip ahead to what I think God has planned for my future. (I’ll get up at 5am tomorrow and read my Bible and pray and write three blogs and finish my book and….)

That’s how I get in trouble. Not only do I miss the lessons I was supposed to learn today but—because I’m not following God’s timing—I fumble tomorrow’s lessons, too. I end up bogged down in confusion, worry, and even legalism, all because I tried to get ahead of God.

Jesus said we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, for each day has its own trouble (see Matthew 6:31). I think He meant that He gives us the proper portion of opportunities and lessons for each day—as well as the grace to get through them and learn what we need to know.

We don’t have to borrow trouble from tomorrow; we’ve got enough on our plate for today!

Be Encouraged

I encourage you to seek God’s will for you in this moment. If you’re trying to skip ahead to tomorrow’s plan, then stop. Don’t put more demands on yourself than what God is putting on you right now.

Be content to wrestle with what God gives you today. Then you’ll be one step closer to the person He created you to be.


AshleyLJones

Ashley L. Jones received her M.A. in Biblical Studies so she could learn how to dig deeper into God’s Word. She uses her blog, BigSisterKnows.com, to encourage others to see God as alive and relevant by showing how the Bible applies to their everyday lives. She brings this same passion to her other projects, including her current focus, Girls with Gusto, a Christian living book for young women on how to navigate the eight major steps of the spiritual journey. If Ashley isn’t working or writing, she’s outside taking pictures with her husband Robby, and their cat Sue.

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