Measure Twice, Cut Once

But check whose ruler you're using

My husband’s grandpa was an incredible carpenter, and one valuable piece of woodworking advice he passed to Mark was, “measure twice; cut once.”  In other words, you’d better make sure you’ve checked your math before you make that cut and you can’t turn back.

I like to measure–I have an odd habit of counting the slices that drop onto the plate as I cut cucumbers; I measure which bite on my plate looks the tastiest and save it for last.  I measure how quickly I can fold a load of laundry and put it away (I’ve shaved my time down to 2.5 days).  I measure how much time I spent playing Barbies with my three year old without losing my mind.  I measure how much food to make so I can have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. It can be incredibly important to measure how much gas it will take to get to church, or how many minutes to walk to the park; but I also have some dangerous measuring habits.

I measure myself against other moms–I have more kids than that one, which means I’m more experienced.  I look less put together than that one; she makes homemade birthday gifts.

I measure myself against other writers–she has three books published already; he has 12,000 followers, she masters word play far better than I do.

I measure myself against other wives, other teachers, other real-food-eating moms.  Measure, measure, measure.

And, guess what?  I find one of two things happens when I measure this way.

One: I find that I am, in my perception at least, doing/being/achieving better than the person to whom I compare myself which leads me to pride & sometimes laziness.

Two: I find that I do not measure up and I feel discouraged and disheartened.

Either way, I do not walk away motivated to run after who God has called me to be.

“We are all unique and needed in this plan.  To hide our gifts, or to deny them, or to compare and wish them away is not only taking from yourself; it is taking from God, his church, and a world that needs to see the expression of God you bring.” (Jennie Allen, Restless)

I think Grandpa was right–we should measure twice (or three or four times), but we have to make sure we’re using the right kind of measuring tool.  I am to measure myself against who God has designed me to be–this can really only be measured by time in His word and in His presence.

So, let me encourage you, stop measuring yourself against your sister, your neighbor, your best friend, or for goodness sake against someone on Facebook (that’s not real).  To hide, deny, or compare your gifts robs you, God, his church, and the world that desperately needs who He made you to be.



Compassion When the Sniffling Doesn’t Stop

Encouragement to Keep Choosing Christ-likeness

Sometimes it is about more than training yourself to initially react properly, it is choosing to continue acting properly.

From the couch where we just finished reading our bedtime books, I can easily hear the girls electric toothbrushes scrubbing their bubble gum flavored paste against tiny teeth.  And then I hear, “Owwwwwww!” followed by sobbing from the oldest.

“I’m so sorry Audrey, I really didn’t mean to,” Charlotte said in a genuinely apologetic tone.

(sobbing & owwww continues)

“Audrey! I said I am sorry; it was an accident” Charlotte shouts at her sniffling sister and then begins crying herself.

This would be the time when I stepped in to help with the wounds & negotiations.

Charlotte’s initial reaction to Audrey was exactly as we’ve taught and modeled for her–she was sympathetic and sincerely apologetic.  However, when her big sister continued crying in the face of her sincere apology (how dare she), she moved to actions that showed anger and frustration.  I am not surprised when a three-year-old acts that way; she has many years of training.

But it made me wonder…when my three-year-old wakes up cranky and emotionally unstable (can I get a witness that baby girl mood swings can be scarier than happening upon a wild animal?), my initial reaction is (typically) one of compassion and grace.  I recognize that for whatever reason she needs an extra measure of space & grace.  But, in the face of my compassion, when she continues to break down over the stroller stuck on the sidewalk and the turkey sandwich rather than hotdogs, I do not always choose to continue acting Christ-like.

When Mark calls to let me know he will be home for dinner…at 7:30 p.m., my initial reaction is one of compassion for him and understanding that the situation was unplanned and outside of his control.  Two days later, when something else comes up (Hi, I am married to a business owner!), and he has to drive back to the stores after just getting home, I don’t always choose to continue acting Christ-like.

To me this simply reveals that I need more of Him and even less of me.  Praise God, I have grown enough to be able to (often) initially react well–and praise Him still, He is still working on me!

So, here is my encouragement to myself and to you–when you are tempted to stop choosing to continue acting Christ-like even when there is still a sniffly sister, an unstable three-baby, or a late-for-dinner husband in your face, dig those heels in and ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to do what you cannot on your own, display Jesus over and over.

And over and over.


To Make Him Great

Or to make you feel great?

“God made people so they could…do all sorts of wonderful things.  Everyone should thank God for these gifts, but sometimes people try to use their skills for themselves instead.  Rather than saying that God was great and thanking Him, the people began to fill up with pride thinking that they were great.” (“The Tower to the Heavens,” Jesus Calling Storybook Bible, Sarah Young)

I sat on the couch, our two girls in between my husband and I, reading before bed, and I found myself being struck again.  I’m not sure why, but it seems that the Bibles we read to our little people minister to me, often, so profoundly, and each time I am astonished by the power and life in God’s Word.

(I applaud Sally Lloyd Jones for putting together The Jesus Storybook Bible–we have read it over and over in our home.  We recently picked up The Jesus Calling Storybook Bible, which is also beautifully put together and has lovely little sections at the end of each story to read to your children that mimic Jesus Calling in a way a child can understand.  My girls smile as if they’re receiving secret messages from Jesus to them)

“Sometimes people try to use their skills for themselves instead.”  Ready for some real honest talk?

Sometimes, I use my organizational skills to make myself feel like I have it more together than other moms.

Sometimes, I use my excellent communication skills to make myself look intelligent in conversations.

Sometimes, I write a blog post & wait for the ‘likes’ and comments to roll in, so I can think that I am great.

But, here is what I am learning (it’s a process for this thick-pride-filled skull of mine): my gifts were never for me; my gifts were never mine; my gifts are useless for anything that matters {for eternity} if they aren’t building the kingdom.

My love of hosting people, the joy I get from baking for people, my ability to write & teach to write, it is not to make my life better, easier, happier–it is to build the kingdom.

So, let’s be real today, ladies–what do you have?  And, how are you using it?  To make you feel great or to make Him look great?

I’d love to hear where you are on this journey–share with me on Facebook.