"Do you feel like Raggedy Ann living in a Barbie doll world?"  This question caught my attention recently while shopping with friends at a Louisiana craft store.  It also made me laugh hysterically.  Why?  Because I could identify. 

As I speak and sing at women's conferences throughout the country, I have many opportunities to talk with women who also feel like Raggedy Ann (or "Annie" as I like to call her).  They have had the life squeezed from them, but feel obligated to meet life's demands looking like Barbie.

On my drive home from Louisiana to Texas, I began thinking about Barbie and "Annie." I found some interesting comparisons.  "Annie's" hair is usually all over the place, while Barbie's hair is perfectly in place.  "Annie" wears an apron, while Barbie wears an evening gown.  "Annie" wears no shoes, while Barbie wears stilettos. 

And that's when it hit me -- we often see ourselves as lifeless "Raggedy Ann," while God sees us as beautiful "Barbie."  1 Samuel 16:7 says "God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart."  While media and magazines push outward extravagance, God longs for our hearts to worship Him extravagantly. 

Don't get me wrong ladies -- every barn looks better with a little paint!  There is nothing wrong with looking good, but our focus must be balanced.  So, how do we accomplish our "Annie" tasks while taking care of ourselves like Barbie?

The first thing to remember when balancing our lives is that we cannot do it all.  We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be everything to everyone.  This often happens when we fear something is lacking, so we wear ourselves out trying to fill the void.  We must protect our priorities and relinquish the things that steal our time.  For example, enjoy time with your children, even if the house is not perfect.  Strive to keep an orderly home, but know that your children will remember the quality time you spend with them much more than the dirty dishes that were left in the sink.

We also need to take care of ourselves. There is a balanced way to do this, and we must care for ourselves if we are going to care for others.  Be sure to rest, eat well, exercise and do something you enjoy while maintaining the responsibilities that God has given you.  It is rare that anyone needs us 24 hours a day.  Make a decision that you will take care of yourself so that you can care for others with excellence. 

Finally, stop focusing on what is wrong with you, and take an inventory of what you do right!  As women, we often find it easy to name our flaws while struggling to list our strengths.  If this is difficult for you, write down five things you do right each day.  Make a conscious decision to examine the good qualities about yourself, and focus on those things as you continue to make progress in the other areas. 

The Bible says, "as a man (or woman) thinks in his (her) heart, so is he (she)."  So focus on the good things!  You are a beautiful "Barbie" in the eyes of your Heavenly Father.

October 31, 2009

Shannon Perry is a speaker/singer whose new If The Shoe Fits women's conferences combine her teaching prowess with her musical talent.  Perry's new music CD entitled The Real Thing (produced by Lifeway writer/producer Paul Marino) features songs specifically written to fit in with the theme of the conferences.  Perry wrote the bulk of the original presentation in hospital waiting rooms while her husband was undergoing cancer treatment.  Perry earned her Master's Degree in Education with an emphasis in counseling and taught in the public school system for over fourteen years before entering into full-time ministry.  She has previously-released music projects with both Daywind and Benson Records which garnered radio airplay on the national Christian charts.  She has performed with the Houston Symphony and has even appeared at Carnegie Hall.  She has been a featured soloist at the J&J Music Conferences in Houston, Texas, and led praise and worship at numerous women's conferences and for the national Lifeway conferences held annually in New Mexico and North Carolina. For more information, visit www.ShannonPerry.com