After having lived in New Orleans for 8 years, I am really enjoying the distinct seasons here in Chicagoland.  In this picture you can see the maple trees in our back yard were just starting to turn.  I love the vibrant colors.  God sure does paint beauty all around us if we will stop to notice!  Lately I haven’t been noticing much beauty out of doors.  I have been trying so hard to keep up with homeschool, housework, Bible study, and Church activities that going outdoors has been the last thing on my mind.  I have found out that I can’t keep up.  I just have to decide what is important to me and do that.  Everything else will still be there later.

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I am a perfectionist.  I try hard to keep everything neat and organized.  It stresses me out to have clutter lying around.  My husband will tell you that when we first got married I about made him crazy trying to clean things up before he was even finished using them.  God sure knows how to break me of this perfectionist lifestyle.  With six kids home all day, I can’t keep everything “perfect” all the time.  When I try to keep things “up to my standards,” I miss out on the more important things in life: spending time with the Lord, my husband, and my children.  This has been a painful and stressful lesson for me.  I am not the only one it has been hard on; my kids have had to deal with a cranky mom as I worry over keeping things orderly in a world that lends itself to chaos.  I’m so glad that God offers me grace.  2 Corinthians 12:9 says:

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In verses 7-8 Paul tells about a “thorn in the flesh” that he asked God to remove.  I also have a “thorn in the flesh” if you want to call it that.  My  back and neck have not fully recovered from injuries of my young adult days.  I really believe that God is letting me keep these injuries so that I won’t become prideful in my ability to “do everything.”  When I try to do too much, the injuries flare up and force me to take it slow for a few days until the pain goes away.  This forces me to spend more time interacting with my kids instead of rushing around cleaning house and doing other projects that are trivial when compared to the needs of my family.

I have learned that any limitation that we face can be an opportunity to lean on the Lord in a very real way.  We have a choice to make.  Are we going to complain about our plight in life, or are we going to lean on the Lord in prayer and experience His grace in new ways.  I used to think that I had to be perfect to please God and to please those around me.  Now I have learned that God’s love is unconditional.  He does not want us to be people Pleasers.  There is a cute quote going around on social media: “You can’t please everyone! You aren’t chocolate!”  Paul wrote in Galatians 1:10:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

This is a ongoing struggle for me.  I want to please others.  I am a work in progress.  God is teaching me to seek to please Him.  “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  I’m striving to keep my eyes on Jesus and not so much on what others think of me.