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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.  

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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.  

Leadership and Security

On Facebook, there has been political bashing taken to a whole new social media extreme since we are about to have elections here in the U.S.  Jokingly, there has been a Facebook picture which states, “I desperately need a hide all political posts button so that I can still like my friends after the election.”  The topics are hot and controversy is heated.

At my church we are choosing who to continue on in leading our congregation.  So many choices for leaders.  I don’t know what to do, so I pray about it.  I pray for our leaders who will lead our nation.  I pray for the leaders of our churches.  I pray for Christianity  to be whole and not divided.

Everything is divided.  Then hurricane Sandy hits and both political candidates shuffle their campaign schedule to see how they can help.  Churches stop fussing over the color of the draperies and start loading up trucks of supplies to help in the aftermath of the massive storm.  We focus on being united and helping those who have been struck by tragedy.  That is what it is all about isn’t it?  The differences lay on how to go about it.

hmmmm

During a recent meteor shower my daughters and I lay bundled up in sleeping bags and hats.  We stared up and the vast dark sky which stretches out into infinity.  We stared up into the vastness of a Creator who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

In all of our squabbles I think we forget that.  No matter who is elected, God is still God.  Jesus is still my Savior.  No matter what storm should hit, God is still God, and Jesus is my Savior.  Our nation could collapse, and God will still be God.  He is my constant.  He is the one thing in my life I can truly rely on.  Everything else in this world is fallible; but not God.

It is so easy to put our faith in something like our economy or our leadership.  In doing so, we risk placing our security in a place that is not secure.  We risk crashing with the storm and the aftermath.

And so, even during the storm I will praise His name.