Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Soul Search

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 7 }

When three people tell you within a two month period that you’re being too hard on yourself, God may be up to something. 

Perfectionism has been my enemy for as long as I can remember. You wouldn’t recognize this tendency if you visited my home or caught sight of my unruly brows but it’s there nonetheless. It established patterns of procrastination behind my back, paralyzing me to move forward in certain areas of my life. 

Can you relate? 

Perhaps it’s because I’m still a WIP (work in progress) that I gravitate towards godly women with a wise perspective, like Ginger Harrington. I had the opportunity to meet Ginger at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference in May and now she’s also a fellow #write31days participant. When I read her post Soul Search: Why Are You So Hard On Yourself? from Monday, I had to share it here, with you. Prepare to be blessed!

Ginger Harrington’s 31 Day series

Ginger’s theme for October is Soul Strength and you’ll not want to miss a post via Ginger’s Corner.

Staying in Step With The Spirit: When we choose to see ourselves as God sees us, we are strengthened by truth — and truth never fails to draw us closer to God. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for the “wide fields of grace” You provide for us to run free and forgiven in Your presence. Help us to stand firm in the truth that when You see us, You see Jesus—the only Perfect one.




For it is God’s loving soul search that sets us free to run forgiven in wide fields of grace. -Ginger Harrington

Past #write31days posts:

{ Day 1 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Our Senses
{ Day 2 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Less Clutter 
{ Day 3 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Healthy Relationships 
{ Day 4 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation 

{ Day 5 } Sunday 

{ Day 6 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Specific Prayer 

{ Day 7 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs

Are You Hoarding God’s Gifts?

While encouraging Piper’s coloring skills last week, the word popped out without warning. I’d promised myself to keep the word Perfect! under wraps, especially with my grandchildren, but there it was in all its glory. 

It’s a seemingly innocent word but it can wreak havoc in our psyche if we’re not careful.  

From a writing standpoint, this word has left me paralyzed more times than I’d like to admit.

If the “perfect” word doesn’t come to mind, I can’t begin the poem. 
If the “perfect” word picture doesn’t happen, how can I finish the devotion? 
And on and on. 

So pages of uncompleted work scribbled between two thin blue lines remain scattered among our library, shelved by perfectionism.

Perhaps it’s for this reason I can’t get enough of Emily P. Freeman’s book, A Million Little Ways. Asterisks, underlined words and phrases, Wows!, and several exclamation marks find their way on practically every page. Yes, it’s that good.

One favorite chapter Offer includes this wisdom:

When I hoard my gifts and my gifting under piles of doubt, perfectionism, and demand for appreciation, I forget the six pots in Cana filled with dusty water, the ones holding nearly thirty gallons each. I forget how Jesus takes small offerings and turns them around to glorify his Father.

A salty splotch of water mingled slowly with underlined words as I read this paragraph for a second time. Never had I associated my perfectionism with hoarding God’s gifts. All along, I’d considered my finished piece of work as an offering to the Lord—but now I see it’s because of Christ’s finished work that I can find rest in offering my best, but far from perfect work, for His glory.

If you’re struggling to climb out from beneath piles of doubt, perfectionism, or a demand for appreciation, I would welcome the opportunity to pray for you (and ask that you pray for me, as well.) I have a feeling we’re not alone on this journey!

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

Christmas Hospitality: Perfect is a Lie

If you Google “hospitality” Alberta Scott, my grandmother, is sure to pop up in the top five. MaMa sang in the church choir, taught Sunday School, baked a pound cake nearly every week for shut-ins, was a founding member of the Garden Club, i.e. lots of parties, and welcomed anyone who showed up on her doorstep. Not to mention how she loved on me and the entire family throughout her life. 

I wish I could say I’m a mirror image of her, but I’m not. I’ve always struggled with drop-in company and the like. I know the importance of hospitality, but somewhere between my mind and the doorknob, truth can get diluted.

Enter a gift from the Lord, The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking and specifically, Kelly’s recent series, 31 Days of Simple Hospitality, which immediately sparked the idea of my own 31 Day series!  (Check out Kelly’s new blog !)

My favorite excerpt, Day 2: Perfect is a lie.
“Perfect is a lie. It is unattainable. And when we are talking about
things like the perfect house or the perfect family or the perfect meal,
it is so subjective that it doesn’t mean anything at all.

Perfect is a big fat lie. 

We all have messes in our home and life and heart.  Big, broken, somedays-almost-conquered-but-not-quite, beautiful messes. And we hide them away and miss out on the fellowship our soul craves. 

The time will never be right. Your house will never be as clean as it
could be. Your to-do list isn’t going anywhere. Friend, please don’t
rob yourself of community waiting for something that doesn’t exist.”

So today, let’s consider how we can extend our beautiful messes to others during the holiday season. 

For me, I’m currently planning to enjoy a cup of tea in my mess with a friend who works hard and spends many evenings alone. Next year, I hope to reestablish my annual Christmas Tea. 

I’d love to hear how you hope to share your beautiful mess during this season!

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9

Perfectionism Stifled by a Cheap Spiral Notebook

Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones is a new favorite. I slurped it down quicker than the cream-laden coffee nearby.

Simple advice, yes. But who knew a cheap spiral notebook would set me free?

“Think, too, about your notebook. It is important. This is your equipment, like hammer and nails to a carpenter. Sometimes people buy expensive hardcover journals. They are bulky and heavy, and because they are fancy, you are compelled to write something good. Instead you should feel that you have permission to write the worst junk in the world and it would be okay. Give yourself a lot of space in which to explore writing. A cheap spiral notebook lets you feel that you can fill it quickly and afford another.”

Bound pages, devoid of ink, line my bookshelves anticipating “just the right words” to one day be written upon them. How had I missed such an obvious sign of perfectionistic emptiness? So freeing was this revelation that I immediately hopped in my car and headed to Target for…you guessed it, cheap spiral notebooks.

A different color notebook for each genre now awaits my writing time each day. It’s amazing how one simple change can be so freeing.

Perfectionism, whether it be in the sphere of writing, organization, appearance, or a particular skill can stifle God’s best for us. A cheap spiral notebook may not be everyone’s answer to stifling perfectionism, but pinpointing our area of vulnerability is the first step in making that one change that may just set us free.

No Hoops Required

“She’s so cute…and she hasn’t even done anything yet,” a friend said after seeing Piper’s most recent picture.

My response? “She doesn’t have to.”

As the words fell from my lips, the Lord whispered neither do you.

Piper doesn’t have to speak, smile, or giggle to win more of my affection. She has my heart clinched tightly in her tiny fist—no matter what. There’s nothing she could do to make me love or accept her more.

As God’s children, we’ll find ourselves both delighting and grieving the heart of our heavenly Father—but His love for us? It wavers not.

Jumping through hoops of perfectionism, perhaps unknowingly, in hopes of gaining more of God’s love or attention will eventually bring us to the point of exhaustion. Refreshment, rest, and a deep abiding joy is ours when we choose to embrace that which is already ours as a Christ follower—God’s unfathomable, magnificent, and unconditional gift of love.

No hoops required.

1 John 4:9-10 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (NIV)

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