Saturday, September 26, 2015

Are You Comfortable In Your Own Skin?

People are complicated.  Every day we have choices to make, and those choices shape how others see us, and more importantly how God sees us.  Most first impressions are decided by outward appearances.  That’s human nature.  Thankfully, we can rest in the beautiful fact that God couldn’t care less what we look like, because He is looking at our hearts, and what is being reflected out of them.  That is where He sees our beauty or lack thereof.

He knows WHY we make the choices we do as to how we will spend our time.  Is it for appearances OR is it to help others or ourselves improve physically, emotionally or spiritually?

He knows WHY we choose to treat the grocery store clerk with kindness OR ignore them during the transaction.

He knows WHY we choose to invite people into our lives OR stay in an exclusive clique making others feel excluded.

He sees YOU.  The real YOU.  Just like He sees the real ME.  Eek!  Scary? Yes, but He loves me anyway.

I like to think that I’m comfortable in my own skin.  I have come to accept the gray hairs that I cover with blonde (that’s acceptance, right?), the fact that I am under 5 feet tall and not the skinniest chick you’ll come across (yes, I know I need to exercise more frequently), and the scars have mostly faded from having severe cystic acne as a teen (well, the physical ones anyway).  However, while watching the Emmys last week, as Frances McDormand accepted an award, I noted that she wore a dress that was appropriate, but she wore no makeup and her hair looked normal, and I thought “Now, that’s a woman who is just comfortable in her own skin.”

That isn’t easy to do.  I am 46 years old, and getting closer every day but I pray every day that I reflect the light of Christ to other people.  I don’t always succeed in that effort, but it there is any inner beauty seen in me, it comes from Him.

I love I Samuel 16:7 “ But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him.  The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  God had told Samuel to go to Israel and anoint a new king.  Samuel was being human, judging on appearances, seeing who looked the part of being a powerful king, but God had already chosen David and he didn’t look the part…on the outside anyway, but David’s heart was what God was saw.

It can be hurtful when people say things about your appearance.  The emotional scars from that can last a long, long time. It can affect your confidence until you find the strength to be who God wants you to be.  Take comfort in knowing that God sees your heart.  He knows WHY you make the choices you do, He knows WHY you put up walls or take them down. He knows YOU.  

I hope as you grow to know Him better, you become more and more comfortable being who God created you to be, relying on Him for strength.  I pray that for myself as well.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

If You've Ever Felt Like God Doesn't See You or Hear Your Prayers...This Is For You

How many of you are tired?  I would guess that the majority of people reading this would say , "Me!".    Every morning my Facebook and Twitter feeds are flooded with people talking about that cup of coffee to get them started in the morning.  

But, there’s a different kind of tired that a Scripture has me thinking about this morning, and I’m going to admit one of my many imperfections here:  There are certain people and situations that  just wear me out.  If you know me it won’t be hard to visualize the eye roll as I say, “I’m just so tired of it.”  Anybody else been there?  

As I was reading Isaiah 40, verses 27-29 this morning, my initial thoughts went to how physically tired I feel, but after further meditation on it, the correlation is much more about being emotionally tired for me.  Here it is in the New Living Translation:

Isaiah 40:27-29-  
O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?  
O, Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?  
Have you never heard?  
Have you never understood?  
The LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of all the Earth.  He never grows weak or weary.  No one can measure the depths of His understanding.  He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

  • If you have ever felt like God does not see you or hear your prayers…this is for you.

  • If you have ever felt like God is ignoring you…this if for you.

  • If you have ever felt like your problem is too small for God to care about..this is for you.

While we get weak and weary and tired and worn out by situations and people, God does not.  We can ask and cry and plead and whine and ask and complain and ask Him and He still doesn’t get annoyed with us.  He just doesn’t get tired.  As a matter of fact, that is what God wants.  
                        I Thessalonians 5:17 says Never stop praying.

Hmmm..that’s a three word sentence that packs a punch.  Don’t give up because the answers that we are praying for aren’t coming as quickly as we want them to.  

And while we are waiting, feeling weak and powerless, ask God to give you the power and strength to deal with that gnat in your life that continues to annoy you as you swat and miss repeatedly.

It won’t surprise anyone who knows me that as I am writing this, there is a TobyMac song running through my head. It’s from his new album “This Is Not A Test” (which is AWESOME by the way).  It is called “Move (Keep Walkin’).  I will end with posting some of the lyrics from that track that speak to me the most, but you should really check it out for yourself, and remember to lift your head, it ain’t over yet…

Seriously, lift your head.  Look to God and find the strength and power you need.

I know your heart been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you’ve got nothing left
Well, just lift your head
It ain’t over yet
So, move
Keep walking

Soldier, keep moving on..  ~ TobyMac

Monday, September 14, 2015

Just A Normal Chick Trying to Live Her Faith Out Loud

I spent the weekend catching up with friends that I don’t see very often.  One was a friend from high school, several were ladies that I taught with, and the rest were women that I hung out with on a regular basis during our time in southern Ohio.  We moved from that area to eastern Pennsylvania 7 years ago, and have since moved to northern Ohio.  A question I was asked more than once was if I liked living in Sandusky, which I do, and it was mentioned by multiple people that I seemed happy no matter where I live.  That always brings to mind that whole Bloom Where You’re Planted thing.

The thing I was surprised about was the number of those women that mentioned missing this blog.  I was encouraged to hear them tell me how it helped them through hard times. I have been asked my many people why I haven’t posted in a while and honestly the answer to that has several answers.  The main one was that life got really crazy for me with another move coming, transitions with colleges for my kids, blah blah blah.  It didn’t feel like blah blah blah when I was going through it.  It was heavy and time consuming and I needed time to be fed spiritually instead of feed.

Some of you will think that’s selfish.  Honestly, another reason the posts stopped was what people were saying.  I always tried to make it clear that I am FAR from perfect, and that I struggle to reflect the light of Christ on a daily basis, but somehow I was still called a hypocrite when I made a mistake.  Even though I know my heart and my intentions, it still hurts when you’re called out , and I just didn’t think it was worth it.  I’m not a Bible scholar.  I’m not a minister.  I’m just a normal chick trying to live her faith out loud, and I let the noise of other people drown me out.

It’s easy to sit behind a computer and drag someone else down.  My goal of the blog was to encourage and show love.  Some of the posts that were written as testimonies by other women were getting negative comments on them.  That upset me because those women were vulnerable enough to share their story and because of a venue that I started, negative things were being said to them for the public to see.  That was discouraging as well.  

So, the posts stopped.  I had a group of women that contributed their thoughts weekly and after prayer, I diligently worked to craft their words of wisdom into something that would be a light to other women.  Those women didn’t deserve negativity either, so the sabbatical continued…

We are settled into our new home now.  Our kids are out of high school, and I’m not working so I have been praying that God would show me how He wants me to use the gifts that He has given me.  I knew His answer was to start sharing here again.  I actually knew that when I met friends in Charlotte in March and I heard the same things, but I ignored it then.  But since that time, the messages, emails and conversations have continued, and I knew it again this weekend when those words of encouragement were said.

I don’t know if it will look the same.  For now, I’m just planning to share my thoughts on  Scripture that gets my attention, and if it encourages one other person, then I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, even though it still makes me a little nervous. But as TobyMac says, “I’m leaving the sweet spot, sure shot and trading it all for the plans You got.”  The sweet spot is sitting behind this computer watching Netflix..

The Scripture that woke me up this morning was Jeremiah 17:7-8, “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.  They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.  Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.  Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit.”

If you’re up for thoughts from a flawed woman trying to reflect the light of Christ I hope you’ll join me on this ride.  I’m going to fail at times, but because I trust in the Lord, I hope that some of the fruit produced will nourish a soul or two..