The not-so-perfect P31 Woman

A few years ago I’d been speaking at a women’s conference when a woman came up to me to say she almost didn’t come to the event because I was a speaker from Proverbs 31 ministries. She told me that chapter in the Bible made her feel bad, and every time she heard a message on Proverbs 31, she felt worse because the speaker seemed perfect and it made her feel like she should be, too. Then she said she was glad she came to my event that day. It made her feel better after hearing me speak since I didn’t have it all together.

I smiled and decided that was a compliment.

I’m always happy to encourage others with my not-so-together self. The truth is for many years I wanted to tear Proverbs 31 out of my Bible and pretend it never existed. But over time I discovered some powerful truths tucked into what used to be an intimidating passage. I’ll share those another day. For now, let’s just say I’m a P31 Woman in progress. Heck, I don’t even know what a distaff is and fine linen…well, does flannel count?

Just yesterday my husband’s friend came by to drop off something. I walked into our foyer and greeted him in my flannel top and bottom pajamas – at 5:15pm in the afternoon. I’d had a hard day and it showed. Well, my jammies were one thing but what he saw next was another. After listening to my explanation of why I looked like I was ready for bed, he grinned real big and said,

“Renee, is that a Christmas tree in your living room?”


Yep, he sure did. And yes that is a Christmas tree in my living room!

I know it’s St. Patrick’s day. I was planning to have green clover ornaments on it by now, thank you very much. I was going to decorate it with shamrocks this month, Valentine hearts last month and easter eggs next month. Andrew talked me into keeping it up so we could have a “holiday” tree through Easter. I agreed since I’d waited until February to take it down.

It was a great idea. The only problem is time passed. I got tired at the end of each day and started working on my book proposal and other things, and well I never took off the Christmas ornaments to replace them with other holiday themed ones. I just got so used to the thing in my living room that I didn’t want to take it down. It matches my decor – look at those beautiful greens and reds blending together!

But I am getting really funny looks these days. Lysa’s daughter Ashley gave me this look last week. And I’m starting to think parents are waging bets if it’ll still be up when they drop off their sons on Wednesday nights for youth group at our house each week.

But I also have to tell ya, it’s liberated some people! A friend told me it makes her feel better that I still have my tree up. I guess she used to think I had it a little more together. Another friend used to ask, “How do you do it all?”

Now she knows my secret…I don’t.

I just do what I can. And many times I don’t do it as well as I think I ought to. But that’s okay. At least that’s what I told myself and my family tonight when I announced we’re eating hamburger helper for dinner… and singing Christmas carols before bed. So what’s the latest you’ve left up your tree? Please tell me someone out there still has a tree up – I need a support group!

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, β€œEveryday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. When I was in 6th grade we did a church play called “Christmas in July.”

    There is also a Shel Silverstien poem about a Christmas tree on March the 25th. If I can find the words, I’ll send them to you!

  2. Ok…so your redneck phrase came straight from your den. LOL I’ll send you some flags for July 4th.
    I like the “holiday” tree.

    Oh..this just reminded me, my tree stand is still on my patio. Isn’t it funny how we can overlook things we see everyday.

  3. Well there is a small table top BBQ on my front door step, buried under snow, that has been there since August.

  4. I think the latest ours stayed up was last year; it came down just before my sons birthday at the end of January. I just took down our Christmas card tree a couple weeks ago (to hang up a schoolwork chart) and my nativity set, and Advent Nativity Tree are still up in the living room, if that makes you feel any better.

    I look forward to hearing more about your thoughts on the Proverbs 31 woman. I’d love if you wanted to join us once in a while for Ruby Tuesdays, a blog event where others are joining in to discuss our thoughts on her as well.

  5. That’s great! I love your transparency. Now I don’t feel so bad for not putting away the laundry… πŸ™‚

    -Michelle

  6. I love your realness! I did a post on Proverbs 31 a few weeks back… the Lord sure uses you a lot to confirm areas of my life! Wow!
    I actually didn’t take our tree down this year, my daughter did. I was struggling health wise and just didn’t care… it would still be up if not for her:)

  7. www.fingerprintsfromhishand.webs.com says:

    Think of it this way-you’re ahead of the game for this Christmas! :o9

    Julie

  8. OK Renee…don’t feel bad…two years ago we left our tree up ALL YEAR!!!

    We have a HUGE artificial, pre-lit tree that actually does come apart in 3 places. However, each piece is unbearably heavy. (It’s tall enough that it stands in a corner that is ‘open to above’, stretching to the second level of our home.)

    That year, time passed…and once summer came it seemed almost pointless to remove it. We too joked about making it a ‘holiday’ tree, but I never did add other ornaments. I ‘almost’ forgot it was there at times, but other’s entering our home enjoyed a good joke over it.

    I have to admit to one thing. It did stand as a visual, constant reminder that the Christ of Christmas is with me all year long.

    I wouldn’t give it another thought! Now I love you even more :o)

    Hugs,
    Joy

  9. Oh Sweet Renee…

    I love this post. I can’t join your support group because of a Christmas tree— however, I have plenty of other red neck happenings over at my place that I’m sure could help me qualify…

    Hugs to you my not so perfect friend!

  10. I’ve probably gotten close or even into February when I was working full-time. πŸ™‚

    Recently I noticed that my neighbor, who I don’t know very well, still had theirs up. That was just a couple of weeks ago.

  11. hee hee
    This is too cute! Maybe I should send you a Christmas ornament. πŸ˜‰

    It really is a blessing to see that no one else has it all together. I so easily fall into the trap of wanting to have it all together, but if any of us did, people’s eyes could end up on us instead of Him. Praise God…I’m so not together most of the time there’s not a chance of me stealin’ the glory! πŸ™‚

    Love to you,
    K πŸ™‚

  12. My tree’s not up but it’s so refreshing to hear others don’t have it all together either! It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others and find ourselves lacking. I love your honesty! BTW, it’s noon and I’m in yoga pants and a t-shirt still.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Oh Renee, THANK YOU! In fact, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!! What a blessing. More than anything, such a sweet post. Thanks for the love you sent us today through it! Praises!

  14. Renee,

    Is that all you have, a Christmas tree still up in March? You hadn’t posted in a while and it had me worried. But girlfriend a Christmas tree in March is probably a lot more normal than you think. You had the courage to admit it. Where most people wouldn’t admit that kind of stuff.
    I was afraid that you were going to tell us that you and some Leprechauns were out hiding Easter eggs with Santa Clause, now that needs a support group. Welcome back and hang in there!

  15. Hi Renee,

    I have a dear friend that kept her Christmas tree up all of last year, from November 2007 through Christmas 2008. I haven’t been over to her house recently – perhaps it is still up in her entrance hall! πŸ™‚

    Hope you are well.

    Blessings,
    Pearls

  16. I love you!!! Thank you so much for being so very real. I’m learning to do that. I am so tired of wearing masks. I have done it for so long that when i do it now i don’t even realize it.
    I lost my dad and my grandmother within a month of each other this year, and i have been in a deep dark hole for awhile now. All of my life i have felt less than, never good enough and never fitting in. Then i found drugs and for the first time i finally felt as though i belonged. But that sisn’t last either. I have been clean for 3 yrs now(PRAISE GOD!!!). But those feelings are still there. I have learned I am a very codependent person. We have a group called Celebrate Recovery at my church and i am proud to say i am a part of it. It helps me to hear from you and to hear from the wonderful people who leave comments. Thank you all so much!! Someone told me to start a gratitude journal i have never done that before…any suggestions???

  17. Anonymous says:

    Oh Renee…I LOVE you! I also love the fact that my son has been coming to your house once a week for at least two months and has not one time mentioned the fact that your tree is still up. I wonder if he’s even noticed? He probably just thinks it’s cool!

    I’m glad that you’re perfectly just YOU! πŸ™‚

    A.

  18. Well, that makes me not feel so bad for still having my Christmas garland on top of my kitchen cabinets :-)LOL

  19. I will admit it. I still have my Christmas tree up. The reason is that my hubby and I really have no place to put it. Our storage room where the tree spent most of last years is slowly being cleaned out, so that it can be used for our daughters nursery when she arrives in June. So, I will admit my Christmas tree is still up, and I have gotten funny looks from family and friends too. God bless you!

  20. Renee, I love this post! It’s so “real”!

    Thanks for hopping over on my blog—I’m glad you loved the “As Yourself” post. Feel free to share it.

  21. You go girl! Might as well keep it up; just throw a tarp over it to keep the dust off. Can you even imagine having to dust a decorated Christmas tree?! I wrote my own post about a P31 woman earlier this week…a meme I’m participating in on Tuesdays.

    An interesting study indeed!

    peace~elaine

  22. This just blessed me today πŸ™‚ I haven’t exactly felt like anything close to the P31 lady lately.

    I so appreciate your realness:)

    Have a great Thursday,
    Kate πŸ™‚

  23. Anonymous says:

    It makes me feel better that you fix hamburger helper for dinner!

    Real mom’s don’t care about what they eat, but that they can still have a sit down dinner with family even if it is Betty Crocker! What the kids will remember is the family time not what they ate, right!!
    Happy trails…

  24. You may have your tree up but I didn't even buy one this pass Christmas! I just put my nativity set out & a few, a very few other things. We had Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Day at our home. The thought of all that I had to do plus put Christmas decorations up was too much for me. So I did the minimal, both with the food & decorations. It was the most freeing thing I did!! I enjoyed the holidays so much more. Jesus doesn't care about the decorations. He cares that we celebrate His birth. This pass holidays were one of the best! Spending time with love ones & reconnecting with them made me realize that it is the simple things that matter. So simple leave it up until you & your family are ready to take it down. You get to enjoy the tree longer! How nice is that!
    Blessings & Peace

  25. I’m part of the red-neck club! Heck – my doormat is still Christmas – does that count?

    Wonderful for people…including yourself, to know that you aren’t so perfect. No one is. And it would be such a shame to place that image of perfection on one of us and take it away from Jesus – the only perfect being I know.

    In His Love and Service,
    Melissa
    mggb75@gmail.com

  26. Funny how we “appear!” I realize we think everyone else has it together. Today, I ditched chores and went outside to fly a kite with our children. I am sure those passing by thought it looked as if my household chores were taken care of since I was outside playing– they so were not. But it could easily appear to be a Mary Poppins’ Let’s Go Fly a Kite moment.

  27. Well, two weeks ago I was visiting my mama. I am eating breakfast, when I look on top of her fridge and see all of her “Christmas tins”. I guess she forgot to get those while she was undecorating. Then, while brushing my teeth in the bathroom, I see little snowmen staring at me from the wall. What is this? She says she did forget about the tins and hasn’t made time to take them down since she noticed. As for the bathroom snowmen, she has no excuse…except that they do match her decor. Oh Mama!

  28. Gosh at least yours is a fake tree. I took my real tree down about 3 weeks ago. It looked so good for so long, and was taking water, and actually growing, then one day it wasn’t looking so good, so down it came.

    I, too, appreciate your honesty and how real you are. Makes us all sisters.

  29. The Christmas of 1999, when my first grandson ended up with meningitis. He was in the hospital for a very long time, and lost his hearing. The tree stayed up till well into March. And it was ok, it was a constant reminder of the Lord who brought that sweet little boy home.

  30. Things got so busy around our house this year the tree never made it up! It’s been up toward the end of January before, but if it makes you feel any better, last year I was looking for the snowman saucers to put on a little stand in my kitchen and couldn’t find them. My bonus daughter said, “They’ve been on the wall all year!” Oh mercy. That means they were up when we had a house so full of her side of the family that you couldn’ stir them with a stick – last August for our grandson’s birthday party.

    You are so not alone, LOL, and now I realize I’m not either. PTL, indeed!

  31. Well, dear sister in Christ, I must confess that our Christmas tree did not come down ALL last year! Yep, that’s right. . . I put it up in November of 2007 and it didn’t come down until after New Year’s, this year! ;-D lol I bet you’re thinking you’re doing pretty good now, huh?! We had been travelling and when February rolled around, I decided I could decorate it for Valentine’s, St.Patrick’s Day, Easter, etc. . . and yes it was a lovely idea, but unfortunately it never morphed into completion. I found it quite liberating and shared that with lots of friends and family when they’d say, ‘how do you keep it all together?’. . . ummm, I don’t!

    I tend to be very organized and relatively good with sticking to a ‘schedule’ a strength God has blessed me with, especially with triplets), but in this case, I allowed myself to reach a guilt-free status and put my focus where it should be. . . on God. . . NOT the Christmas tree still donning our great room. πŸ™‚ Funny how the ornaments were so easy to get off but I never managed to get the darn tree itself down. . . not only was it liberating to me, but my friends as well. . . nope, I don’t have it all together. . . Praise God for accepting me the way I am and encouraging me to do better with the things that really do count!

    Great post – God bless you and yours!
    Rachel
    http://www.4-littlemen.blogspot.com

  32. That is so good Renee!!! Love the reality of all you P31 ladies! Love you…tree and all. Christmas in July…isn’t that a holiday???
    love,
    Lelia

  33. Did I ever tell you about the year I left my tree up until Easter? Yes, I did. I was pregnant and the morning sickness started Christmas Eve. Over Spring Break that year my husband moved it into our guest room and when my mom came to visit he told her she would need to rebox the tree if she wanted a bed πŸ˜‰ I helped her.

    I’ve learned to embrace imperfection as it points directly to His perfection. Just another reason why I love you!!

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