Wednesday, June 20

Excellence Instead of Perfection

A little over a week ago I went to a Vacation Bible School Leadership meeting at church (I am the Preschool Crafts Director). We were served a very nice dinner of bread and olive oil, Caesar salad, chicken casserole, brownies, and tea. After dinner we served each other Holy Communion. I left the meeting feeling rejuvenated, but that is not the point of this post.

Before the meeting I met with the Children's Minister and we discussed decorating the four preschool craft rooms. She said that we aren't allowed to hang anything from the ceiling, due to fire codes. That comment triggered a memory that I shared with her.

In March 1982, my kindergarten year, our class made umbrellas cutouts from old wallpaper samples. I remember being amazed by the huge books full of florals, stripes, and plaids. I don't remember exactly what color I picked out, but I do remember that is was a hideous floral circa some time in the 1970's. I liked it!

The teacher's aid (her name escapes me) cut out the profile of an umbrella on two sheets of wallpaper. I was to glue the two together. Then a hole would be punched in the top and a hanging string would be added.

The aid told me, "Don't use too much glue."

I used too much glue. It was supposed to be flat, but my umbrella curled into a sideways U. Ha! U for umbrella.

The sight of all the umbrellas hanging from the ceiling was mesmerizing to my five year-old mind. They were beautiful. Well, mine was not beautiful. It curled up because I used too much glue.

After I shared this brief story with her she asked, "So, you've always been a perfectionist?"

I answered, "No." Pause. "Ummm." Pause. "Well, yes."

She jokingly said, "You know that there is a group for that on Friday nights."

I laughed and replied, "Yes, and I'm in it."

You see, I have never thought of myself as a perfectionist until now. Ive always thought of my self as a pig, a messy, disorganized, lazy pig, and not at all perfect.

This one little comment triggered so much thought. Am I really a perfectionist? Yes.

Here is how it works for me. I want to do a good job, but if I can't do something well and quickly, I'd rather not do it at all. I don't like big tasks, because I get overwhelmed and I fear failure. I do fine with small tasks that have a definite ending point with measurable results.

Here is a great example: my garage. It is a MESS! I don't even like to go out there. It stresses me out. I don't like to work on it because the job is just too big. After a few hours of cleaning, sorting, and purging, I'm tired, disgusted, and ready to quit.

How about another example? I have several hundred dollars worth of scrapbooking supplies in my garage. Do I ever use them? No. Scrapbooking stresses me out! I'm never satisfied with the pages I make. I made a wedding album that I can't stand. I have the first four weeks of Tater's life scrapbooked. I think those pages look great, but she is five now. Poor Little Man doesn't have any pages. I have thousands of pictures waiting to go into books, but I am frozen. I don't want the frustration of trying to get it right. I'd rather not try.

Cake decorating has been very good for my little perfection problem. If I promise a cake, I am forced to present one even if I'm not entirely satisfied. Usually everyone around me thinks it looks fantastic. Nay-sayers just keep their mouths shut. Oh, and cakes, even wedding cakes are short projects. I can, and have to complete them.

I know, The Superman cake is the exception. Other people agreed that Superman really did look a lot like Moe.

Okay, I must confess. Last fall I really disappointed a friend when I showed up with a grocery store cake instead of a homemade one. I became so upset with the stupid red frosting that I put my fist through the cake and then threw it in the garbage can. Yardboy was really mad at me for ruining the cake I spent so much time (and money) on. It was not a nice night at our house.

I won't do that again. I learned two things. One, that I should buy red decorator frosting instead of trying to make it myself. Two, that an ugly homemade cake is better than throwing a tantrum and having to buy a lame grocery store cake off the shelf.

Somehow this has to make it back around to Celebrate Recovery. Right? Okay, here it is. I've been dragging my feet with my Inventory. Why? Because I want it to be perfect and complete! Who ever heard of such crap?

The Inventory form has columns. All of my junk won't fit into those little columns and still look right. What if I write it down and forget something? I can't go back later and just add it in the margin. Then it won't look right! It would be really messy! I know, it is crazy. Why does a messy page bother me when a huge pile of laundry on my love seat doesn't?

I decided to just write my Inventory journal style. I'll start writing and go with what ever comes out. I'm using the silly column headings as guides or suggestions instead of absolute rules for formatting. To someone else, this may seem really foolish, but the desire to have page neatness has been a huge stumbling block for me. I think this new approach may just work.

So after much thought, prayer, and sharing in Small Group and with my Accountability Partner, I decide to go back to the Children's Minister and tell her about what she started with her simple question.

At first she looked worried and asked, "Did I injure you?"

"No," I replied, "It was huge and very good. Thank you."

She then asked me if I knew Ms. K from our church. She is in leadership and is thought very highly of.

I've met her.

The Children's Minister said that Ms. K admits that she is a perfectionist to a fault and is constantly working on it. Now she strives for excellence instead of perfection.

I laughed and added, "The difference between Ms. K and me is that she is always so "put together" and I make fart jokes."

I'm off to work on my Inventory now. Pray for me.

I'm Baaaaaack!

The computer crashed. Then, we went out of town for several days. Then, I helped my dear friend make a wedding cake. Then, date night with Yardboy. Then, Father's Day celebrating.

Yardboy has the computer up and running again. We are back home. The cake has been eaten. The date is over. Father's Day is past.

In short, I'm back. Did you miss me?

Friday, June 8

Pantry Cleaning

My Celebrate Recovery Sponsor came over for lunch yesterday. It was really nice to get to know her a little better.

After lunch, I opened the pantry to put something away. This is what it looked like:

I told my sponsor that my pantry was a metaphor for my life, or for me.

My pantry held many really healthy foods, some that are good only in moderation, some things that are tasty, but harmful to my health, and some that are just plain rotten.

This afternoon I showed the pantry to another friend in Recovery. After she went home, I cleaned and organized it. I even vacuumed and mopped the floor. In the past, I wouldn't have worried about the floor. Nobody else ever sees it and it is just going to have stuff piled on it again. Why bother? I bothered this afternoon because of the parallel I saw between the pantry and my recovery.

I'm still working on Step Four, the Inventory. It has proven to be a much more difficult task than I thought it would be. I want to do a complete, honest inventory, and it is taking so long. I keep thinking of the old saying, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer is, "One bite at a time." I'm working on my inventory one little bite at a time and it is difficult to chew.

My life, like my pantry contains good things, harmful yet pleasurable things, things that must be kept in check, and things that are simply bad. I'm trying to identify and clean out the bad, while keeping the good in balance.

When I finished cleaning, sorting, and purging this is what I had:

After looking at my newly organized pantry I had another thought. My pantry and my life will not stay neat and clean without work. I must constantly add good things and regularly evaluate, clean out, and discard the junk.

Ephesians 4:31 (NLT)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

Lamentations 3:40 (The Message)
Let's take a good look at the way we're living and reorder our lives under God.

Isaiah 1:18 (NIV)
"Come now, let us reason together,"
says the LORD.
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

Tuesday, June 5

Eleven Twelve

I used this song to teach Tater to count. I told her that it was a Sesame Street song from when I was a little girl. I haven't seen the entire video since I was a child. She and I were so excited to see it this morning!

Saturday, June 2

I Miss Alton

For the last two years we have paid ten dollars a month for "limited basic cable" and we were very happy with it.

Yesterday we learned that the cable company took The Food Network off of our package. I'm so sad!

I am already missing Alton Brown. I guess I will have to rely on my DVDs and books. Sniff sniff.

Friday, June 1

It's Beginning to Rain

It has been so dry. This Spring our area only received 2.24 inches of rain. We usually gets about 15.1 inches from March 1 to May 31.

A few weeks ago I heard a local meteorologist say that dry weather breeds dry weather and not to expect rain any time soon. She turned out to be right. This drought really dug in it's heels.

Wildfires seem to burn all over the place. Most lawns look and feel like ours--brown and crunchy. Lakes and rivers are lower than they have been in years. Farmers that don't have irrigation systems are losing crops. A sign in front of a church down the road from our house reads, "Have you prayed for rain?" Many people are praying for a hurricane. I'm praying for a tropical storm.

This afternoon was overcast and I didn't think anything about it. It has been cloudy for days with no rain. Dry weather breeds dry weather.

This afternoon turned out to be different. Tater asked, "Mommy, why is it so dark?" We looked out and saw rain. Yea rain!

This evening I learned that Tropical Storm Barry is headed our way. Hooray!

A song from my childhood came to mind this evening.

It's Beginning to Rain

It's beginning to rain, rain, rain,
Hear the voice of the Father.
He's saying, "Whosoever will,
Come drink of this water."
He said, "I will pour my Spirit out,
On your sons and your daughters."
So, if you're thirsty and dry,
Look up to the sky.
It's beginning to rain.

Lord, Please send Your rain.

I'm the Winner!

Cheri at Northwoods Ramblings held a contest in the Month of May to celebrate her one thousandth post. I won! Woo Hoo! Thanks Cheri and congratulations on 1,000 posts!