My mess --airing out dirty laundry

Okay, so the Lord has been laying something on my heart to share with you. I am a pretty open person, but dirty laundry is never fun to share. I don't love feeling like an idiot and I definitely don't love everyone knowing that I am. ha!!
So....the Lord has been dealing with me on different areas of my life. Making me answer the question,
"What are you really striving for and would you really be happy if you attained it?" Our precious Lord was too sweet to throw it all at me at once, so it's been a process of sorts. I'll kind of take you through it one at a time and hope you can hang with me.

I do not expect to look like a swimsuit model after having children, namely because I didn't look like one before. HA! I have been insecure about the way I look since before I even had things to be insecure about. Now that I really do have "issues," my insecurities have gotten worse. After I had Adelynn, I was just so down about myself...didn't feel like I could ever get all the weight off...only saw faults when I looked in the mirror, etc... (I'm sure y'all can relate),
WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN God started to whisper to me.
What if you got the perfect body? What would happen then? Would you be happy with everything then?
Well, then I would be "that girl" that makes everyone else feels insecure, so no, I wouldn't. On top of that, I would probably be conceited, and I don't want that either.
hmmm...so why am I striving for this, when the end result is something I would hate?
---I am beginning to see satan's deception more clearly. If he can keep us all insecure, unhappy, jealous, and all seeking after that which is unattainable, he can also keep us from true fellowship with each other...divide and conquer. He can keep us so busy, that we miss out on life. He can rob us from so much joy. I am NOT going to let him have that. Please know that I still struggle with body image, I am not claiming to be healed from that, but I want to be open about those struggles. I want to make sure I am encouraging the good things that I see in others and I want to remind myself that perfection in that area is NOT something I even want.
Could I be more healthy? Of course, but working out is not healthy if you are all messed up mentally. I want my eyes to stay open to what the enemy is telling me to strive for, so that I can avoid those traps. I have talked to a zillion women about this. We ALL struggle with this, even my size zero friends, and that is no mistake my friends...they are lies and we are the suckers believing them.

My House:
I grew up with a mom that was truly super mom. She gets up early every morning, works out, does her quiet time, has breakfast on the table (not cereal either), has a spotless house, takes care of the whole farm and all the animals, has a yummy snack baked when we get home from school, dinner every night, and was a complete sweet heart as well. The woman even loves yard work!!...need I say more? I was a very blessed girl to have a mom like her and still am. The only problem is, there has been a standard set and I find myself always falling short. She would say that she's far from perfect, but in my eyes, she was. My friends think my house is always clean (which it's not), but even if it was, there are a dozen other areas I feel like I am falling short in-- as a mom, a wife, and a friend. I do like for my house to be clean. I truly enjoy organization. A newly organized closet makes my day (I know, I'm a nerd), BUT my eyes were opened to another thing a couple of weekends ago. I had just cleaned the house top to bottom because my mom and sister came over for dinner Saturday night. The next morning I woke up to my husband surprising me and getting home early from the ski trip. We were so glad to see him! We played, listened to ski trip stories, and just enjoyed each other.
Suitcases, dirty laundry from the trip, and Kennedy's toys filled our living room.
KNOCK KNOCK. It was my mom dropping something by!...oh the stress. My house was all messy and we were still in our pj's at 1:00. I felt my blood pressure shoot up. I found myself apologizing to my mom for the mess more than once and feeling really lazy that we hadn't accomplished anything yet. After she left, I wasn't okay. My mind was whirling and I wasn't sure exactly why. Then came the whisper again...
Is it really that important? Do you really want to be so concerned about cleanliness that you can't enjoy a surprise visit from someone you love?
NO! I don't ever want to do that!
What is the problem then? What are you embarassed about?
Well, nothing really. I am glad that we are still in our pajamas totally enjoying each other. What a blessing! I know that my house is clean, even if it looks messy, so that's not it either.
I looked at a big pile in the floor where Kennedy had emptied out the vast contents of her enormous purse......and then it hit me... what if something should happen to her and there was no more mess?....Ohhhhhhh, my heart ached... How I would long to see her little "treasures" strown all over the floor!
Don't wish this away on things that don't matter...on striving toward perfection that you can NEVER attain.
The truth is, that if I was able to attain it, I would probably miss out on so many other joys and make everyone else miserable in the process.
Do I really want to make my home a place where people feel like everything has to be perfect?
No. I want my family and all those who enter to feel the love of Christ when they walk through these doors.
Do I want to be "that girl" that intimidates other people by my perfection?
Of course not!! I would absolutely hate to make anyone feel like that.
I called my mom and apologized for allowing my insecurities to rob me of enjoying her visit and asked the Lord to forgive me for being way off base in my priorities. She reminded me that we are all good at different things and that we shouldn't be trying to be just like someone else. We can appreciate what they are good at, without it making you feel subpar. She said, " I don't come over to your house, see your paintings, and say, 'boy I need to get home and start being more creative,' I just appreciate the fact that you are."

This Sunday our sermon was on spiritual warfare and then I came home and saw a video (see next post) that my friend had posted, which drove it home even further...encouraging me not to take the little things for granted. It was another precious reminder from my Savior.

All that to say...examine your goals and see if they are really of the Lord. Most of the things we strive for are not. The enemy truly is on the prowl. He knows your tendencies and your weakenesses. He strives for devision. As Christians, we are not powerless. We have the power of Jesus Christ- but- we have to be paying attention so that we know what's going on and can rebuke it. Let's be real with each other, let's truly enjoy the time we have with our families and with each other and let the other stuff just be a side note.
I look forward to you coming over and catching me with a messy house. We can sit in the middle of it and just grin. I love you guys.

1 Chronicles 29:12
Wealth and honor come from You; You are the ruler of all things. In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.
2 Chronicles 20:6
"O LORD, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand you.


Jenny said...

Ashley, this made me tear up - especially the part about Kennedy's toys. It's so funny (well, not really - the Lord works in "funny" ways sometimes), but I was near your neighborhood the other night, and I thought about stopping by to say hi on my way home, but decided against it. Partly because by the time I actually was on my way home, it was 10 PM, but also because I knew it would have made me a little uncomfortable for a friend to stop by if my house wasn't neat and I was in my PJs. Ouch. If I am in your neighborhood again, I am stopping by, and you feel free to do the same! :)

Heidi said...

what a precious and authentic display of your heart, dear ashley!

you are beautiful inside and out! If you ever want to feel better about the state of your house, just drop by mine, it's sure to give you a lift, and you're always welcome! ;)

I try to remember that we all go through various seasons in life and make adjustments with how we do life around them.

Kelley and Melissa said...

Ashley, I LOVED this post. I read it 3 times, because it really hit home with me. I suffer these exact same things, on a daily basis, and it was very refreshing to know that I'm not alone, and to read your uplifting take on it all. I needed that! I think I'll focus today on making big messes with Mia, and praising God that we can make them! XOXOXO

Debra said...

Preach it sister!

sara said...

woo hoo!!! Good stuff!

thanks friend. :)

Brad and Deania said...

Oh, Ashley! My throat tightened up as I read this, and then tears began to fall. I was just having a conversation with Brad during lunch today about how I just feel out of control because I have all these expectations of myself, and seem to be falling short of every, single one...and why? He simply said, "You should read Ashley's blog." And here I am...I'm not the only one, and that realization, in itself, is quite comforting. Why, oh, why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we have to have the "pefect" this or that? Why can't we just be and enjoy what God has given us. THANK YOU for being honest. You're a beautiful person, inside and out - don't let Satan tempt you otherwise. Hugs and love!

Brad and Deania said...

Hey all...if you want to feel better I can take a pic of my fat hairy gut and forward it along to ya...should help for a few minutes anyways...you know, I'm a giver and all...

-Brad :)

Bishop Family said...

I feel the same way except I always say to myself the I don't want Carter to have the "fat" mom! I strive to keep my house clean too, but fail almost every week! The laundry wins every week too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and how to overcome them with God's help. I now do what I can with the time that I have and do the best that I can with everything. I am not perfect and I know that I will never be the "Super" wife, mom, friend, or school counselor. I am just Kim and that is fine with me!
Love you!

Sarah said...

Ashley, Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I tend to let them enemy get ahold often, because staying at home I feel an even more desire to make things PERFECT. May God continue to show you HIS word that speaks truth. What an AMAZING gift..

Mandy said...

soo glad you shared these things. i couldn't agree more- i have struggled for YEARS w/ body image stuff and i remember when i was a size 4 and i was still unhappy about my body.
counterfeit gods (Tim Keller) talks about the worst thing that can happen to us is getting exactly what we want.
anyway, thanks again for sharing so openly!

The Wades said...

Ashley, I have read your blog for awhile, though never commented. I met you years ago while I was going through rush. I am whit penick's cousin...anyway, this post was amazing and so true. I had similar feelings months ago and you are so right! I came to the conclusion that we go through life for the "I can't waits" and what happens is that we forget about enjoying the life that is right in front of us. I think there are 100+ women who can relate. I would pick up my daughters toys until I was blue in face as opposed to never picking up a child's toy...I know you would too! Some women go through life without ever realizing what you have discovered, take comfort in that and enjoy the blessings around you! BTW- You are a beautiful person!

LoriB said...

So sweet Ashley. Thanks for sharing. My laundry is too stinkin' dirty to share! Ha! I am thankful that the God of the universe hasn't given up on us yet!

Joyeful said...

This was such a heartfelt post and I can identify with it ALL!!! : ) Truly, I can. And don't you love how gentle our Lord is with us and how He whispers and urges us to let it go.

Thank you for being so real! You are lovely!

And it's wonderful to meet you ; )

The Rainers said...

You are amazing!

The Rainers said...

Your words I mean...that really hit home, that really didn't sound right after I wrote it before..HA!!

Bonnie said...

Ashley! Your honesty brought tears to my eyes. We are precious and whole in God and that's all we need...but it's amazing how we put so much pressure on ourselves to live up to some standard that no one who we call a friend would ever want us to try and do!
In our bible study Lies Women Believe this week's chapter is about Lies Women Believe About Themselves-It says that in 1 Peter 2:4 that Jesus was "rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him." Being chosen by God is what determines our worth. Thank you for your post. I love you!

JoAnna said...

Ash, I love you so. Really. You are so precious! I love your heart... and I love your sweet way that you protray God. You are so loving and make Him look as loving and kind as He truly is. It really is His kindness that draws us to Him... and even reveals our weakness to us so we can draw a little closer. :) Thank you. Totally don't want this to sound condiscending in any way, because that is NOT how I mean it... but I am so very proud of you, my friend! You are an amazing woman of God and help everyone else around you to be the same. Thank you, precious woman! I love you dearly.

p.s. I am totally tweeting/ facebooking a link to this article for all ladies to see. We ALL need it! Thanks again for being faithful to share what God is doing!

righteousnessbyfaith said...

I love how the Lord is so gracious to reveal things to us but to also reveal them to others in our lives at the same time! I love the sweet unity in the Lord that this brings.
Your post could've had my named signed at the bottom....although, I am certain your wording is better than mine would've been, but I am in that exact same place.
I would love to catch up and talk soon; share what our loving Father is teaching us and love on one another.
I miss you sweet sister.:)

Joycee said...

We all feel that way early on in our homemaking, that we'll never match our Mom's expertise. But then you get a little older, and a little wiser and your children teach you that it's all about them. It's all about making that house a home, complete with toys on the floor and beds unmade if that's what the day dictates! Great post Ashley...