Category Archives: Beauty

Truth vs. the Lies that Infect Us

In her book So Long Insecurity Beth Moore states, “We’re going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us.”

Sounds like a good theory in concept.  The problem is, is that sometimes, we do not know what truth is in regards to who we are.  A few years back my belief was that I was a most heinous individual.  I hated myself with such a great intensity that it was physically nauseating.  The song I listened to over and over again was “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been.”  I wanted to be beautiful, for there to be a grace about me that radiated, alas, it didn’t.  I believed that no one could really want to even talk to me.  I had nothing of value to offer.   I was too much of a disappointment to everyone in my life.  I felt I was a detriment to those around me.

So I holed myself up.  I could not look up at anyone, afraid I would see disappointment in their eyes.  I wanted to have an emotional beauty about me, to minister, to be an artist and a writer.  Could I dare define myself by such things?  The fear of failure during these years kept me in a silent jail.  I was only one who was unworthy of anything.  I allowed every negative action to affirm my beliefs.

Worse yet, during this time I had a woman who I thought was going to mentor me separate herself from me.  I was devastated and her actions confirmed every negative thought I had ever had about myself.  It was my ultimate confirmation.

Even now, years later, it is hard to believe and write anything to the contrary.  I believed the lies so long, they are ingrained into my very core.

How is it that I had every believed such things to begin with?  Who knows why I have such worthiness issues, but they plague me.

At some point during those years I decided I had to determine what truth was.  People are fallible.  Always remember that.  The things that come out of someone’s mouth are often flawed because of their own perceptions.  The only place to turn was to scripture and I had to believe it as if scripture were speaking directly to me.

So what is the truth?

1.  I am worth rescuing.  (My theme Psalm is chapter 18)

2.  I am a reflection of the Creator.  (Gen. 1: 27)

3.  God has plans for me. (Jer. 29:11)

4.  He rejoices over me.  (Zeph. 3:17)

5.  I am holy and without fault in His eyes. (Eph. 1: 4, Col. 1:22)

6.  My story can be used for His Glory.  (Eph. 5:14)

I can only allow God to define me.  It is His truth that sets me free.  If I start defining myself based on what others think of me, then I become paranoid and lost in the insanity of it all.  I have my doubts and setbacks.  My last blog entry can attest to that.  But I know that God knows my name, and regardless of who I am in relationship with humanity, I am precious to Him.

What truths do you base your life on?  What lies have you believed?  How do you allow those things to define you? 

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The Pain of Beauty

As women, we go through great pains in order to be Beautiful.  Although I am not much of a froo-froo girl, I still endure my fair share of torture.  Take those eyebrow waxings for example–ouch!  And although pedicures are a way to pamper oneself, I have to admit they hurt a bit.  Then, we don elaborate jewelry before we leave the house and have a ritual of putting on make-up every morning, oh, and the hair.  Living in the South where “big hair” rules, taking the time to do hair can take up most of the morning.

We do all this to feel beautiful.  It is a woman’s yearning to be the Beauty.  To feel like she is Beautiful.  John Eldridge in Captivating describes a woman as Beautiful when she is “fully present” and at “rest” within herself.

But how does one come to be at rest within themselves?  John Eldridge answers this question as well.  He states (paraphrase), “that a woman becomes Beautiful when she knows who she is.”

About eight years ago I had no idea who I was.  I really had no idea of my own identity.  There are many pages in my journal from that time where the words, “Who am I?” are sketched across the top or off to the side.  I felt lost without an identity.  I didn’t know who I was, yet, I felt that I was more than just a wife and mother.  The questions of “Who am I?”  and “What is my purpose in life?” haunted me day and night.  It had to be more than just who I was in relation to other people.

I was not at peace or at rest within myself.  I was anything but beautiful.  In fact, I ducked and dodged other people because I thought I had nothing of myself to give.  No light to bear.

During those years I hated myself intensely.  I hated the void of who I had become.  I lived in fear of being asked to do things, and more fearful of just being a wallflower and no one noticing I existed.  But wallflowers have to bloom, right?

Not necessarily, I think blooming is a choice we make.  We have to pursue the blooming process.  I did.  I wanted more than what I had, so I chose to learn to bloom.

I started hearing God through the voices of my children.  They taught me so many lessons during that time.  They taught me that it is okay to involve God in the minute details of my life.  That if I ask God for something as simple as to make the bees in our yard go away He will.  They also taught me there is Beauty in imperfection.  That was a very important lesson for me to learn.

I also discovered that God knew my name and that I undoubtedly belong to Him.

The Psalms repeatedly speak of God pulling the Psalmist up from the mire or the pit of despair so that others can see and be amazed at what God can do.  It takes a journey of dark to light to have a testimony.  Those who have made this journey can bear so much more light to those who have never walked the darkened road before.

“Weeping may continue through the night , but joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5

It is God’s desire to pull you up out of the pit of despair.  He wants His glory to be seen through you.  God’s desire is for you to reflect the ultimate Beauty–His Beauty.

What “pit of despair” has God pulled you out of?  I want to hear your story.  

The Flood

A couple of years ago we had a MAJOR flood in our area.  It was unreal.  We didn’t expect it.  We weren’t prepared.  Dams threatened to break.  Bridges threatened to collapse.  A rain system simply settled on top of us and deluged for days.

The river system that runs through our neighborhood is usually very calm.  But during this time it cut straight shots from river bend to river bend resulting in houses, which were not even close to the river, being swept away down to the foundation.  School’s portable classrooms floated away and people drowned on flooded, congested interstates where the waters rose faster than the cars could get out of the way.  We watched in horror  from our television screens, helpless.

When it was over and the waters receded, it looked like a tornado, not a flood, had hit our town.  Places where the water had risen and tumbled by with such extreme force the landscape had been wiped clean.  School was closed for the rest of the year.  Hardly anything that the water had washed over remained.  On each side of the riverbank yards and yards outstretched of huge trees which had been left laying flat by the tumbling water.  They called it “the thousand year flood.”

I still drive by these places and the landscape is still not the same as it was prior to the flood.  They are recognizable, yet different. The landscape is not quite the same.  Old oaks which once stood firm now lay on their sides, rotting.  River bends were made straighter.

It was a flood that had never been seen in this area.

I can’t help but meditate on what the flood meant.  How it stripped everything away.

In church, I have heard many references in either prayer, words of meditation, or song regarding the Holy Spirit “flooding” our soul.  I used to equate that to filling our soul.  But after seeing first hand the effects of a flood, I think it means so much more than that.

It means to wash everything that was there prior away.  Not just wash as in cleaning a window, but to completely strip it and leave it barren.  I think about this being done to me.  When I pray for a flooding of the Holy Spirit, I am asking for all that I was prior to be washed away.

But then, I am ready to be filled.  If I have baggage in my soul, then there is not much room for the Holy Spirit to reside.  I understand the stripping.  I have to be stripped before I can be filled.  Only after I am stripped am I ready.

Soon we returned to the areas which were flooded and we rebuild.  We go back to the river and learn to live life on it once again.

In some ways, life is better.  Houses were remodeled and new life begins on the riverbanks.  Roads were restored.  People came together.

Can it be that way with our soul?  After it is stripped can it be restored?  I believe so.  Not only will it be restored, but it will be richer and more beautiful than before.

“Father, flood my soul with your Holy Sprit.  I am ready to be nothing of myself and filled completely by you.”

Reflections of Rain

My family owns a farm that borders the Harpeth River.  I go there often when I need to reconnect with what is important in life.  Today I went to refocus.  In this hectic world, it seems so much of what is truly important is lost in the rush and chaos of everyday life.  I have to admit I do not go to the farm enough.  I should.  It feeds my soul.

It is a place that when I need to clear my I head I go.  Instead of the hectic chaos, my head is filled with smell of sweet hay.  I walk farther and cross the creek.  The wind is blowing and I remember that there is rain forecasted for the evening hours.

It is fall, and the last of life is still hanging on.  I wonder how often we are like that.  We hang on despite impending change.

There is Beauty in change.

The wind picks up and the clouds to the west darken the sky.  Faintly, I begin to feel raindrops.  The storm is some distance away, and I am puzzled from where the droplets come, as they sky above me is still blue.  But the rains will come.  It is only a matter of time.

Then I am given the blessed sign from God.  A rainbow.  Out of a few drops of rain a rainbow emerges.  How funny it is in life, that with a little rain, it can bring such Beauty.  But sometimes our rain is more than a few drops, it is a deluge.  I am afraid that this timid rain and the beautiful aftermath is only foreshadowing of things to come.  Still, I go ahead with my plans to go to the river.

Sometimes the path before us is not easy.

Often, there is unwanted baggage that clings to us.

My father had me convinced when I was a small girl that these were porcupine eggs and not cockleburs.  Whatever they are, they sure do tag along for the ride.

The storm looms in the distance.  I know it is only a matter of time.

Finally, my destination!  I sit.  I am still, and I reflect on the one who made me.  I am reminded of the verse in Phil. 1:6 — And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 

I am renewed in my belief that I am where I need to be in life.  God has a plan for me.  He has began a good work within me.  He will not give up on me until it is complete.

The storms will come.  But I will still praise His name.  During those storms, God is my rock and my fortress.  

As I begin my journey back to my truck, I feel a gust of hot air followed by the rush of cool air.  The storm is close.  Then it begins.  I walk through the brush out into the open field just in time to hear the tat-a-tat-tat of the rain moving across the woods which borders the field.  I pick up my pace.  Lightning flashes and thunder booms and I know the rain is going to beat me to the truck.  It does.  It begins to pour down.  I enjoy the rain washing over my face.  I wipe my hand across my face to remove the drops which are now getting into my eyes.  Thunder cracks loudly above my head.  Regardless as to what may come, I am His.  

Simple Blessings

Mornings.  I have a love-hate relationship with them.  On one hand a hate pulling myself out of bed when I would love to sleep another five hours, (have I mentioned that I am a tired mommy?)  On the other hand, there is nothing like the predawn stillness of a quiet house to help begin the day with gladness.

I was able to pull myself out of bed at 5:30 a couple of days ago intent on doing some writing and meditating.  Started coffee, and while it was making got sucked into Facebook.

Even so, Jesus was standing at the dawn of the day and peace was upon me.  I did eventually get out of Facebook and read my Bible and had just settled into praying when one of my daughters came in and plopped down on the couch.  Usually I begrudge this interruption on my morning quiet time.  But this morning was different.  I was at peace.  I was calm.  I looked at my daughter who was yawning and thanked God for entrusting me with the souls of these precious ones as they grow.

Little yawns; sleepy eyes; sweet morning cuddles.

Most days do not start out like this.  Most days start out with my youngest daughters whining at me to get up before I even open my eyes.  They start my day by screaming for juice.  Not pleasant and I wake up frazzled. Right now as I type, I have had a daughter whining off and on throughout this post.  I tend to the interruption and then try to type another line.  It is irritating that I can’t get anything done.  But little cries mean I am blessed with my precious daughter who’s curly hair tickles my nose

when she sits in my lap.

Outside it is turning cold, and the sun’s rays are not as intense as they once were.  The light is perfect to show off the magnificent array of fall colors.  I look through the window and marvel at the beauty.  Simple pleasures; simple blessings.

I wish I could be at peace like I am in this moment all of the time.  But the truth is I get frazzled.  Last night my husband was fretting over some pending decisions which need to be made.  I simply said, “God’s got it.”   I don’t know if the things that we are hoping for will come to fruition.  I have learned through time that some things are just stepping stones to greater things.  Sometimes the path we need to take in order to get to the destination is not the path we see in front of us.  While we can only see what is in front of us, God sees the infinite possibilities that are before us.

Until I get to my final destination I am going to try to enjoy the ride and enjoy the simple blessings of life.

What are your simple blessing that you take pleasure in amid the chaos? Share with us.

 

The Beauty of Perspective

It is a beautiful picture, isn’t it?  But I can’t help but wonder if the people who live inside the cabin can see the beauty.  Not because they can’t see it, but because they are too close to it.  You see, this picture is taken from across the lake, where there is perspective.  You get to see the grandiose picture of everything from a distance.  You can see how everything is working together.

But what if you lived right there is the cabin; what would your perspective of this picture be?  I would imagine that it is the view that most of us have.  The view of not being able to see the forest for the trees.  You would be so close to it, that when you looked up, all you could see is the few colored leaves right before you.  Your perspective would be cut off, leaving you with only what is in front of your face.

I think our lives are like this picture.  From a distance and with some perspective, one can see the Beauty of God’s work all around us.  But when we are so close to ourselves we can only see what is right in front of us–the complications, the demands, the overload.  That is not to say that we do not see the Beauty in our own lives.  I think we do.  But like the people in the cabin, I think we can only see small snippets of what is directly in front of our faces.  We see the flower, or feel the wind blow across our face or the warmth of sunshine.  We see the smile from someone in the Target line who says, “go ahead.”  But it is hard to truly the orchestrated Beauty of our own lives and what is happening within.  For example, I have a friend who does not know what the next day holds.  But God has provided faithfully for her from day to day.  I can see the Beauty of God’s fingerprints all over her life right now.  I would imagine though, all she can see is the stress of worrying about how she is going to make it through the next day; where money is going to come from for her next trip to Kroger.

I know I have trouble seeing the Beauty from a distant perspective in my own life.  Sometimes I can see it when I look back on events in my life, but not until enough time has passed to give me that perspective of distance and being able to see the whole picture, but even then, my own emotions shade the memories with their own color variations.  I want to pray for to be able to see my life with perspective of the Beauty that is within it.  I don’t want to miss out on the huge, beautiful picture because all I could see was one small section of my life.  I want to see The Artist at work.

 

We are Light

Worldwide, there are many different religions and belief systems.  Oddly, we use the differences in these beliefs to set ourselves apart from other sects of humanity.  Yet, when we come down to it, much of our beliefs worldwide have the same basic beliefs: Be good to others;  There is a higher power; Love each other; value life.

Oddly, most Psychologist would embrace these same thoughts and beliefs for ones well being and happiness.  Those who are spiritual in nature as opposed to religious would also agree to these things.  Dr. Wayne Dyer is wonderful in his books on spirituality in bringing in beliefs from all around the globe to support how to be happy.  I have read several of his books and have been amazed at how Dr. Dyer is so knowledgeable in regards to thoughts worldwide.

Recently, my husband brought me home a book he had purchased for me titled The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book by don Miguel Ruiz.  In reading this man’s spiritual wisdom, I can not help but be stunned by how biblically based it seems to be, although it is from a place far away.  His thoughts sound something like a sermon which could easily be backed up scripturally.

The first thing that Miguel Ruiz speaks of in his introduction is who we are in relationship to God.  How we are God-like and made in his image of light.  That we are light because God is of light.  I was amazed at the parallels to the creation story this has.

It has been quite the challenge for me to believe that I am one made of light.  That I am made in the image of God, and therefore God-like.  I have spent the majority of my life trying to be good enough, only in recent years to realize that I am His, regardless.  Not only am I spawned out of the image of God, but God has a purpose for me, even if that purpose is simply to praise His name.  But no, it is more, I am to bear light to others, and be a light-bearer to others.

There we go with those images of light again.

But Miguel, in his book, says that, “Everything in existence is a manifestation of the one Living Being we call God.  Everything is God.  . . .and the true us is pure love, pure light.”

It makes sense.  If we are of God and God is light, then we have to have that light within us as well.  The problem is that I don’t think we allow that light to shine though because of the human condition.  We are tired, or sick, or we have been rejected or ridiculed too many times to risk showing our light one more time.

The following chapters of The Four Agreements seem to promise how to overcome these obstacles.  I will get back to you on that.

Who am I?

“The B-I-B-L-E, that’s the book for me. I’ll read and study and then obey, the B-I-B-L-E.”

I wonder how much of my theology as a child was shaped by songs such as this? It states that we should read, study and obey. But what does that mean? To my child’s mind, I took it very literal. To obey translated into: be good, don’t do bad things. God is good, so you be good.

The problem was that I could never seem to be good enough. Not that I didn’t try. I did. I tried so hard to be good. It is just that I would mess up. As a young child that meant things like not making good grades. As a teenager, that meant defying my parents and doing things they had told me not to do. As an adult, well, I became very prodigal.

Although I knew the story of the prodigal, unlike the son, I felt I couldn’t return home–spiritually speaking that is. I had too much shame. Or maybe I just needed to tuck my pride between my legs. But for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like I could be accepted in the church. It was like there had been this good-bad line drawn in the sand and I had crossed it. And once I crossed it, there was no going back.

I had spent all this time trying to be good enough and failing at it. It was all about me trying. I was seriously struggling with this issue of being good enough when one day I heard the song, “Who am I” by casting crowns on the radio. Here are the lyrics:

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who Am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who Am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

I am Yours
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
‘Cause I am Yours
I am Yours

I wanted to understand “how the Lord of all the earth, would ever care to know my name?” Why would God care to know my name? I really wanted to know. There was no way I believed God knew who I was. Then the chorus of the song came. “Not because of who I am/ but because of what you’ve done, Not because of what I’ve done/ But because of who you are! Those words stuck with me and I wrestled with them for months to come.

“What do you mean it is not because of what I have done!” my mind screamed back at the radio. “You just don’t know what all I have done.”

I later downloaded the song and listened to the lyrics over and over again until the message rewrote the theology of the song I learned in my youth about obeying.

It isn’t because I had obeyed or not obeyed, it is because of the nature of God and who He is! It has nothing to do with me at all. It is not about me or anything I can do to earn my way into knowing who God is and getting Him to know my name. It is about accepting that, “I am Yours.”

When you realize the gift that those lyrics state, then you can not help but to lay down at the foot of the throne and weep because mercy you did not deserve has been given to you. You in turn, want to do what is right because of who sits on that throne. You want to show grace and mercy just as grace and mercy has been shown to you. That is what Christianity is about–showing grace and mercy. Remember that during your day today and be grace and mercy to those whom you meet.

By the Way, if you want to see the YouTube video of casting crowns, you can see it here:

So What?

By all standards, I have been a very fortunate woman.  I have the all-American life–A house, four kids, a husband who works hard and loves me.  I get to stay at home with our children.  Our daughters do ballet, karate, and summer camps.  We live in a small town where community is important.  But below the surface, I ask myself the question, “So what?”  What if I have it all, but there still seems to be an element of life that is missing.  Like there is something more to be had.

In the book I am working on I start it out by stating, “I have always wanted much more than this provincial life.”  I always seem to have had it all.  I have been blessed with solid, stable things around me.  My parents were together until my father passed away a couple of years ago.  We never really moved.  I never had to change school systems.

So What?

I still wanted more than this provincial life.  What is it that we yearn for, even if we have it all?  There is still something missing to our life.  We try to fill it with things–someone’s love and affection, someone treating us with value, or maybe we stay so busy doing good deeds that we fill the void with the good feeling of being there for others.  So What?

I have had it all.  Yet I have also experienced the horrors of depression.  I kept asking myself, “why?”  I had everything I could really want.  So the question of “So what?” haunted me.

There is more to this provincial life than having it all.  What makes our life go from being ordinary to extraordinary?  What is it that we are searching for?

We are searching for fulfillment.  It has been said that a woman who is confident in her purpose, reveals Beauty.  I don’t think we are searching for fulfillment from ourselves as much as fulfillment as to our purpose.

It is an amazing life.  To be fully alive, not by doing, but by being.  It has taken me forty years and many stepping stones to realize what God has in store for me.  “Life is not about finding yourself, it is about discovering who God created you to be.”  These two things are very different.  I used to say, “it is time for me to grow into my own skin.”  I felt so out of place within my own body.  Slowly, I am beginning to grow into the woman God has designed for me to be.

I don’t want you to misunderstand me.  I didn’t find myself because I went looking for myself.    I found myself because I started searching for who I am in relationship to God.  I discovered I am His daughter, His Beloved.  When I discovered these things then other things started to fall into place.

If you are not at a place where you can see yourself as Beloved, then I want you to pray that you can begin the steps to that journey. But be careful what you pray for.  You may be taken for the journey of a lifetime.  Sometimes we are ready for such a journey, other times not.  But finding your purpose in God is well worth the risk.

A Good Shepherd

In Christianity, we use the terms “flock” and “shepherd” to describe who we are in relation to Christ.  We are sheep following our Good Shepherd.  In the western world, when we herd animals, we typically do it from the rear of the flock.  We flank the herd to the left, then to the right, until they go where we want them.  We drive them.  If we apply this form of “shepherding” to our religious beliefs, we may view Jesus as someone who drives us from behind.  Someone from behind who has a whip in order to make us, the sheep, go in the right direction or to do the correct thing.

But in the Eastern world, where Jesus was from, shepherding takes on a whole new meaning.  To be a shepherd is not one who forces from behind, but one who leads from the front.  A shepherd is with his sheep 24 hours a day, leading them, letting them graze, taking them to water and looking out for predators.  The shepherd does not drive from behind, but leads from the front.  He knows each sheep by name, their likes and dislikes.  The shepherd who leads from the front knows when one of the sheep is missing or is something feels out of place.

For years I had the western view of shepherding in my mind as I associated it to religion.  Religion was something that pushed me from behind, or I was punished for doing the wrong thing.  In my mind, the gates to heaven looked more like two boulders with a narrow opening between them.  It was in my mind’s view that the sheep God separated as His on the Day of Judgement would have to pass through those narrow boulders.  It never dawned on me that God would lead us through first and show us the way.  I only pictured Him driving us from behind and chaos ensuing.

In this picture that was in my mind, I would get into heaven, but only as one of the herd.  I would kinda slip in with the older sheep who were better known to have done good deeds and I would just slip on in with them.  I would slip in, and there would be no reason for the shepherd to even know my name.

I was so wrong; my fears were wrong.  God does know my name.  In fact, He is involved in the details of my life.  It is hard for me to understand how, but I know it is true.  He leads me from the front, and I want to follow and go where He goes.  He is a shepherd who watches over His sheep.

Now, that is not to say bad things do not happen.  People try to reconcile the bad in our life by God punishing us or to teach us a lesson.  I don’t believe that.  What I do believe is that we live in a broken and fallen world where evil exists.  This evil is out to get us at any cost, and it will heap heartache upon us.

Evil shepherds us with fear and doubt.  The fruits of the Holy Spirit shepherd us with hope, joy and peace.  The Father leads us from the front and goes before us.

In Luke 15 Jesus tells a parable about a shepherd who has one little lost sheep.  That shepherd worries over the sheep and goes out to find it.  When the shepherd finds the lost sheep, he puts him around his neck and carries him home.

We have all been lost at some point in our life.  Some of you may be in a lost place today.  If you feel lost, I want you to know that God is grieving over and worrying over you being lost.  But remember, a sheep is easier to find when it bleats and asks for help more than the sheep who is quiet.  And it takes time and effort on your part to come to a place of Beauty.  You have to yearn for Beauty, and you get there by following the shepherd.