Friday, July 31, 2009

Son Showers

The sun is beating down on the car. I'm thankful for the AC that is taking the edge off, but I feel the heat on my arms and hands. Summer in the south, huh? 92 degrees, according to my car.

And as I am drinking in the clouds and marveling at the beauty that is the Virginia countryside, it starts raining. There are no dark clouds. No rain clouds. The sun is shining and it is raining. Sun showers, that's what that is called, right?

So I look up on the handy little thermometer thingy on my car at the temp has fallen like 7 degrees. When I stepped out of the car at little later it was still shining and raining. It smelled like rain. My skin was cooled by the light touch of rain while my body was warmed by the sun. So cool.

And I began thinking. Being wrapped in the loving arms of Jesus allows us to experience Son Showers. (track with me here)

Jesus warms my soul -- my whole body from inside out is touched by His light. And while the showers will come (read that again, yes they will come) we are still warm in His love.

After life's storms pass I am keenly aware life around me. Colors are brighter. I breathe life in a little deeper. Just like after the rain -- you can smell the change in the air, feel the temp come down.

So, dear ones, let us wrap ourselves in Jesus so that when the rain comes we know the joy of Son Showers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Painted Toes, Humbled Heart

I've packed and repacked. Tried on every outfit and vetoed a few...only to repack them. I've worried that my yellow tablet of paper isn't cute enough. I don't have stylish pens. Oh I've even painted my toenails, for goodness sake.

For what? To impress the women at She Speaks. Ugh.

And it dawned on me as I went over my checklist of things to be packed that I'm so caught up in the who's and the what's that I haven't stopped this afternoon to ponder the why.

Why I am going?

The honest answer, I don't know. I felt called and at every turn when I tried to find a reason not to go God stepped in and straighted the tracks for me to roll on through. No really, He did. At one point, as I was debating about canceling my registration I got an email that I already had money in my scholarship account (pretty impressive for a girl who hadn't mailed any letters or made an requests!). Some one's clerical/bookkeeping error LAST YEAR made it so they sent a check in months after the conference was over, but just in time to be an answer to prayer when I asked, "Do you really want me to go?"

I took that as a yes.

Oh, yes, I do know, that I am going because God said, "come". I don't know His why, but I shouldn't need to. In my haze and insecurity I have been chosing to focus on all things safe and controllable. Not surrender to the fact that God's doing something here and I can either be obedient and willing or possibly miss out on a huge opportunity and blessing that God has in store.

Tonight, I am humbled. So badly this past year I have wanted, yearned, to be find where God wants me to be. To find what it is He is asking of me. Since I so clearly thought I knew last year before so many details in my life were changed. So now, as I am girl without a ministry on the edge of the first big step in obedience I will stop worrying about my hair, clothes and superficial stuff.

I wonder, what would my life be like if everyday I thought less about what the world thinks of me and more about what God thinks and wants? Imagine striving to be the best you God made and not caring if they noticed your Wal-Mart sneakers or your chipped nail polish. What would that look like? What would you look like inside and out?

Father, I praise Your for pricking my heart this evening. For reminding me that what You have in mind is so much bigger than these trivial things that I get lost in. I beg You -- open my heart and my eyes this weekend. Allow me to be the woman You are calling me to be. Amen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Do I Have to Say?

Don't you just love it when something leaps off the screen or the page at you? Or rings so loudly in your ears that that is all you can hear? An answer or a prompt from Heaven that you can't ignore.

For those of you that don't know, I am going to the She Speaks conference in a couple of days (click the button on the right for more info -- incredible experience for women in several ministries -- more on that another day). When I first learned of She Speaks last year I was drawn to it from a Women's Ministry standpoint, sure that I could learn a lot and expand my life in ministry. I had an incredible time and while God met me in a very personal way that weekend He also sent me home with new knowledge and a pocket full of contacts.

Oh how things can change in a year. Attending a new church left me ministry-less and it seems that no matter how hard I try God (or maybe someone else) is just keeping me out of the same track. So, why did God call me back to She Speaks? Your asking me? Ha! After much prayer and repeated prompting I signed up for the writer's track.

Almost immediately I began wondering what I was going to write. What do I have to say that someone else would want to read? Truthfully, that thought has lingered until this last week. Now and then I write a blog and am ecstatic when I get some responses. As we were discussing self-image last week (a series that brought lots of comments via facebook, blog and email) I read something. Something that pricked my heart.

"The experiences with God and the wisdom you’ve gained in your journey with him will be treasures for someone. Whether it’s your children or your friends or the masses- God will make sure the exact audience who is supposed to be blessed by your teaching will be." -- Lysa TerKeurst

I had never considered writing for just my children. You know, two of my grandparents wrote their autobiographies to share their life stories with us and future generations. And as I began to think what it would have been like if my Grandmother (who did write of her life and the major events) had written her knowledge of raising two kids two years apart (same as mine), of being a wife and mother, of her faith and her walk with God. Can you imagine?

So, I go this week to learn more about writing (as a ministry) and the publishing world. Then when I come home I will begin to write the words I want my daughter and son to know later. And perhaps, God will find another audience for my words. Wouldn't that be cool?

Friends, I ask for your prayers this week. That I might God where He's calling me to and see His direction so clearly.

***Special Note to the She Speaks gals reading -- I'd love to meet face to face at the conference. Leave me a comment or drop an email. Have you hear Jen is having a bloggy get together on the veranda (if that doesn't sound southern, I don't know what does). Will you be there? Let's catch up!! :) ***

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oh Yeah?...Well....

I was weeding the front flower beds the other night and listening to two young girls play up the street. Most days you see these two palling around and just doing life together. But this must have been one of their off days. They were arguing.

At first it was, "I don't want to play with you either." Then it was, "Well you can't come to my birthday part and we're having a moonbounce." And so it when for more than 20 minutes. Back and forth across the cul-de-sac the insults flew.

Wow did it take me back. The fights I had with my childhood best friends. Maryann and I could mix it up with the best of them yelling from one front yard to the other. And then in later years Niki and I fought in a canoe and threw the oars in the water while we were mad at each other...that's good strand yourself in a small boat in the middle of the lake with the person you don't want to face. How we fought and how we loved. To this day I still count those girls as some of my best friends.

The fight seemed to take a turn, I heard their voices escalate. And the insults changed...every sentence started with "oh yeah". Then it happened, words were said that couldn't be taken back. Like daggers from the other side of the street they fell on my ears and each others' hearts.

"Oh yeah, well your fat and I don't play with fatties."

"Oh yeah?....well...I like to play with Jenny cuz she's prettier and prettier people have more friends."

"Oh yeah?...Well...I'm not fat and Jenny's not nice."

"Oh yeah? Jenny is so nice and people like her cuz she is pretty, like me. Not like you. Boys like us too, not you cuz your fat."

"You can't be my friend anymore."

"I don't care."

Friends, I heard this argument as we were discussing self-image via facebook and blog comments. *Sigh*

And all I could wonder as I sat out there was when does that happen? When do we buy into the lies that pretty people have more friends and fat girls won't be liked? That looks are what its all about. Why do we buy the magazines with headlines like "Find Your Happy Weight" or "Get Skinny then He'll Want You" (um, yes, I did actually see these!)?

You know, I recently saw an ad for a new show. Some reality show were "plus-sized" (any one want to give me a definition of that?) girls get to compete on a show in hopes to find romance. Okay, wait? Don't they have these kind of shows, like the Bachelor and what not? If it were truly reality wouldn't there by women of every size and shape "fighting" to win the love of a man? Proving that we are worried about casting types, and not real love or, heck, even reality Hollywood is helping fat girls find love. How nice.

Honestly, can you imagine if we stopped worrying about how we looked on the outside? Knowing that real beauty shines from the inside out. The fabric of my life is woven together of women of all shapes, sizes, colors and ages and the ones that stand out, the ones of true beauty, he amazing hearts and strength of character.

Instead, (beauty) should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Peter 3:4

Imagine if publishing companies switched their focus. We'd have headlines like "5 Ways to Show Grace at the Grocery Store" or "Integrity, Hope, & Drive -- this Season's Hottest Styles".

Sadly, I don't know that I'll see headlines like this at our local grocery store check out anytime soon. I will, however, be willing to let my life be an open book.

As I learn to be the best woman I can be; becoming comfortable in my skin, drenched in God's grace, I will stretch to be a woman that other's might see beauty in. A woman of a gentle and quiet spirit.

And next time I feel like saying, "Oh Yeah?...Well..." to myself or anyone else I'll ponder 5 Ways to show grace in the grocery store.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Move Your At

God thinks I am beautiful. Great!

I weigh 200 pounds and I'm 5'2" -- I'm terribly out of shape, I can't stand the look of my own body and I am so enslaved to food that I binge eat and suffer the health and emotional (read guilt) consequences.

I do have to learn that whatever my weight, I'm beautiful to my Maker because of who He made me, not what I choose to live like.

There's the kicker.

What I choose to live like.

So as I stick another bite of that dessert in mouth and choose to watch TV tonight instead of doing something active I'm choosing me, not God.

God's plans aren't for us to be fat or mean or sad or addicted or lonely or lost (or the million other adjectives that describe the places we get mired in life). No, He wants to be healthy, happy and content in Him; knowing we are loved and watched over by a God who can fill us up and take us to highs not found on this earth. He loves us where we're at, but He expects us to keep moving the "at".

Max Lucado said, "God loves you just as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there."

You've heard it. Oh, heck, I've said it. "God made me that way." Flashing red lights and loud sirens should go off on your human bull pucky meter when you hear those words. God made me "heavy set" -- I've always been on the "fluffy" side. And while I might have more curves than Hollywood's pop tart of the week that doesn't mean God wants me to be unhealthy and food obsessed.

Have you said it? Are you saying it? About what?

As I stare down the barrel of lifestyle change I don't like it. I want to stay in my comfort zone, eat food that tastes too yummy and not feel like I'm being deprived; but God is calling me to something more. Really, even more than calling me to change me He is calling me to change my relationship with Him.

You see right now food eclipses so much of God's light in my life. I am not the woman He made me to be if I'm not bathed in His light (inside and out). I heard someone once say about a fat person that "he worships at the altar of the all-you-can-eat-buffet". Wow, pretty strong words, right?

But, how does your life/lifestyle point to where you worship? I don't want to be a beacon of light pointing people to food or earthly compulsions. I want to point heavenward.

I know God is asking me to move my "at" and I going to start. Will you pray with me? I could use it.

Is He calling you to move your "at" too?

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Did it Just for You

I was on a mission this afternoon to find a Max Lucado quote to build another blog post around. I had the topic and when I heard this quote again today I thought, "Bingo! That's where I need to start." So off I went to surf the net and find the exact wording.

And then God gave me something else. I love when He does that. I will get back to our discussions of weight, self-image, beauty and so much more but today let's look at a gift God gave me last week.

My family was blessed to spend last week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with some close family friends for a week of sun, sand and relaxing. What joy it was.

I am not a morning person and it was a shock to the system when I sat bolt upright in bed at 5:30 a.m. Why am I up? I grumbled over and over. And as I laid my head back down on the pillow I felt an urge unlike anything I've ever felt.


I threw on some clothes, grabbed the camera and headed for the beach. I was going to see the sunrise. It was beautiful. I snapped lots of pictures and was just in awe. With every breath the colors changed, the sky came alive, the world woke up. Oh it was a moment just for me. I was in love with the painter of the sky that morning.

Two days later. 5:30 a.m.


I did.

And while the beauty of the previous sunrise we had shared still lingered on the backs of my eyelids I was not ready for the majesty God would reveal to me that moment.

In the study I am currently going through Kathy Triccoli mentions Jesus wooing her through creation, specially the beach and the ocean. I thought that was neat concept and wondered what it must have felt like to be wooed by the Maker of the Heavens.

I know now.

As I tried to drink in the ever changing beauty in front of me I was so humbled. How could the hand that made this sky, this beauty, touch my face? Little ole me.

There was no one on the beach. In either direction as far as I could look it was me.

And God.

Then today, I found this:

"Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, "Do you like it? I did it just for you."
- Max Lucado

My eyes fill with tears, even now.

"I did it just for you."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

God, You didn't Get it Right

When I wrote my last post, I was venting my feelings and truly thought no one would relate. Wow, I couldn't have been more off the mark. The Facebook comments I received first thing started opening my eyes -- we women all tend to buy into Satan's lies about our bodies and our looks. Look at a magazine, turn on the TV, check out the big screen and it is not hard to see where we get our misinformation.

One of those fb comments started me thinking (yeah, Cathy for being so insightful)...let me share part of the comment with you: "...I have discovered that God is lonely without our love and now I have discovered it again through your words, it's like the more we bash ourselves, the more we are telling God he messed up." Can you imagine the audacity of telling God He didn't get it right?

Go to a window right now, look out at God's creation -- wherever you are there is bound to be something that catches your eye -- the mountains, a river, a bird, a tree, the ocean, whatever. Just look at it. Drink in its loveliness, its form, its function, its complexity. (Go ahead, I'll be here when you get back.)

Back? Did you find something? I was looking at the beautiful flowers that are growing in my front yard. Now imagine this, as I look at that flower I begin noticing it's imperfections -- its stem is crooked and a little bulgy in places, one of the leaves has a hole in it or and that droopy leaf -- nightmare! Let's go one step further, as I am looking at that flower I begin telling God all that is wrong with it..."God, You didn't get it right with this bulgy stem...". Um?

Now go to the mirror. Take a long look at yourself -- head to toe if you can. Look at the lines around your eyes, the post-baby tummy that pooches out a little (or even a lot), the scar from where you fell as a child, your "crooked" smile, maybe your "flabby" arms...all of it. (Go ahead, remember, I'll be here still.)

Back? What did you see?

Lines around your eyes? You know what those are called don't you? Laugh lines -- those show the joy you've had and carry with you. Smile...see 'em. Don't complain about them or get rid of them...embrace the joy God has given you.

Post-baby belly? You know what that is evidence of? That God laid His hands on your belly and created life. Yes, your partnership with God in growing life changed your body, but it changed your heart too...wear your pooch proudly.

How about your arms? Are they as flabby as mine are? Don't like 'em, do ya? Think for minute of the people you bless with hugs. We are God's arms at times and hold people when they need to be held by Him. Are the arms of God ugly?

Girls (and boys), I could go on for days about every imperfection. Trust me...I could.

So the magazines, TV and Hollywood have it wrong. There is no "perfect" size, shape, height or look...well, there is but not just one. God designed every woman to look like she looks. He made her perfectly unique and in His image.

Your hands made me and formed me. Psalm 119:73

The same hands that made the things outside your window made your curves (or lack there of). He got it right and don't for one minute today believe anything different. We can always strive to be more healthy, in better shape and the best form of us if we are doing it in the right spirit, but if it is out of self-loathing and deception we are wrong.

Look in the mirror again....regardless of what you "feel" tell God you know the truth...He got it right and you are beautiful. Go ahead...

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Way That You Measure Beauty

I hate the way I look. Can I just share that with you right now?

We just got back from a vacation at the beach and I have been going through the photos. I just cherish the moments we freeze to look back on, and I cherish the ones that I'm not in even more.

We're not talking a feature here or there that I am unhappy with. I'm talking don't like to look at the photos for the harsh reality of what I have become. I'm fat. In my minds eye I often view myself as the thinner (I have never been thin or "skinny" so let's just go with thinner) twenty something I was. I don't look at my body in the all. I look at my face so I can pluck here or there or apply some sort of makeup or even do my hair. Beyond that I ignore the mass I've become.

That is until this week. Why does it bother me now? I don't know. I'm no heavier now than I was a year ago. Dunno.

I know where you think this is going...I need to diet, lose weight, whatever. And while that is true and I do hope that I can get there that's not what I was going to tell you. Stick with me here. But wait, oh, don't get me wrong -- I'd love to lose weight, know something about nutrition or training or even just have the energy and discipline to get started on working out -- but tonight as I changed into my jammies and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror God whispered something to my heart.

The king is enthralled by your beauty. Psalm 45:11

I just teared up standing there looking at the mirror. Everyday I grumble about some feature or part of my body. I always have. I've grown up with a very poor self image (which explains a lot of the trouble I've gotten in and the habits I've formed, including overeating) and I've never learned to "love myself".

Yet, He does. He knows every dark detail and ugly truth, still He is enthralled by me? Lights on or lights off, I still shine with Jesus's light to Him. Size 8, 10, or 16, my heart is still full of God-sized dreams and passions that He designed me to do. Me? He finds me beautiful? I don't get it. Just don't get it.

There is a song "Measure of Beauty" by Lindsey Kane that was likely inspired by this verse (at least the opening). Lindsey sings "give me eyes to see the way You measure beauty". Oh how I want that. I want to see how God measures beauty and feel it.

I often pray for God to give me His eyes for other people, especially those I find hard to love. You know, God let me see them through your eyes, so that I may see their beauty and worth. That kind of prayer.

Tonight, I pray that prayer for me. God, give me your eyes for me. Let me see my beauty in You.

It is my hope (and prayer) that as God helps me see the woman I am in Him...that perhaps I can learn to "love myself". That I can celebrate family photos for the memories they'll bring us all, not cringe or be embarrassed by my weight or looks. That I will be healthier and better equipped to play and parent my little ones. That I can surrender one more stronghold in my life to Him.

Listen to Lindsey's song, make it your prayer too, won't you? Join me in asking God to open our hearts and eyes to see each other and ourselves as He does. Let Him sing over you through this dear talented sister.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Too Quiet

In the midst of folding laundry and thinking of the other items on my to do list I heard it. It was too quiet. Uh-oh, I thought, that can only mean trouble. I tip-toed into my son's room where our two little ones were playing. They were in the closet emptying the boxes of clothing put away until another season or size is upon us. That wasn't so bad, but when I found that they had already emptied all the drawers of the dresser I had to sigh. Loudly. I knew it was too quiet.

As a mom of toddlers I've learned that rule. That rule that all parents learn. Silence generally equals trouble.

While folding the mountain of clothes to be put away, again, I began thinking. I love when God uses situations in my life to illustrate points He is trying to make to me.

Silence = Trouble

How do you think God views our silence? As the father of overgrown toddlers He invented the rule. Silence generally equals trouble. Right?

In my own life I know that if I wander off from God going it on my I wind up in my own mountains of trouble. And even as I am digging my way out and apologizing heavenward I vow, I won't do this again, Father. I don't want to go it without You.

But what happens? Yep, I wander off.

Show me your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely.
Song of Songs 2:14

He beckons me back. He doesn't lose His temper or sigh loudly (and I would imagine if God sighed loudly we'd all know it). Always there, forever forgiving.

I am in the midst of Bible study that asks us to commit to do something to show our faithfulness to our Father who is always faithful to us. I chose to give God the best part of my day. I've already wandered off more times than I care to admit, but I continue to try. It is my hope that as God works with me and I move closer to Him that my silences will become fewer and my self-made mountains of trouble will be less.

Oh how faithful You are my sweet Lord. Let me be drawn to You every morning, so that I might stay rooted in You everyday. That I might move mountains for in You rather than build them of trouble on my own. Thank you for your patience Father. Thank you for the opportunity to grow closer to You and more like Your perfect son.