Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stop looking for Mr Right

Just read a great blog about modesty. It was written by men to women, so sweet and so encouraging! Its so sweet to be reminded that men do value modesty in women and not just in our clothes. And so encouraging to be reminded that modesty is something I'm called to! It makes it a lot easier to live a life of modesty and not just wear a wardrobe of it when it has eternal significance!

 Speaking of significance, let me translate my thought. As one man said modesty is deeper than our looks or clothing, its the way I carry myself, what I choose to draw attention to, how I speak, and how I choose to live life with the people around me. Externally, you can chalk a lack of modesty up to "daddy issues" or "attention seeking" but the issue is deeper than that, much deeper and deserves to be acknowledged. All women struggle with modesty and sexuality. Our natural bend is to believe our worth is based on our bodies. We evaluate our value and others based on outward appearance and an inward lie. Now whether or not that manifests itself in our wardrobe is another topic but in some form we all fall prey to it. Ladies I know every one of you can attest to this in your own life some way, internally or externally. Whether it's a woman's struggle to want to flaunt it cuz she got it or a need for some sense of intimacy. Or maybe it is a self loathing based on insecurities so we tell ourselves "at least I'm not her" or "I will loose the weight this year." Whatever it is its doing damage.

But I think there is something to be said about all that. And that something is that we have misplaced our significance. Kind of like we misplace our keys or wallet or cell phone. We  know where it is for a while until one day we get careless. Slowly but surely we no longer go to the same place everyday to find it, instead we begin to treat it as if it were dispensable. We seem to forget the cost to replace it is just TOO costly. There in lies the problem. For believers we know exactly with whom and where we can find our worth but even then after time its as if we never had it to begin with. And before we know it our significance is gone and we are in a frenzy trying to find it.

But why? Why do we continue to fall prey to something we know to be as disastrous as this! One major reason is that we choose to not believe what's true of us. As women our fallen sin is to make the choice to question our significance and our identity CONSTANTLY.
One mans response was how attractive it is for him to see a woman put all her identity in Christ and look to him for it because he knows he never can be that for her. But that is EXACTLY what we do! We look to someone or something else to tell us we are worthy when we've already been proven to be! But deeper still we must go...

If we know Christ alone can give us worth and identity why are we still searching? Why do I still search? A couple things come to my mind...mostly because I don't believe it to be true. That truth hasnt shaken the very foundation I stand on! It doesn't resonate in the deepest parts of my soul. I know it in my head and yet my heart still remains numb to it. Because I'm not secure in my identity as a beloved daughter of God and beautiful bride of Christ, I look to myself or the world. Whenever one fails the other is my default not my beloved. So when "miss independent" is no longer gratifying then to the world I turn, as my nature would have it.

The world tells us women one of two things. One, we have to use our bodies to get the attention, love, and significance we desire. That if you're not putting something out a guy won't come around or he won't stick around. And if we don't fit the criteria then just move along and if we do we can measure ourselves up to another. It isnt true and only produces vanity and/or self loathing. Second, going to the opposite end of the spectrum is the self-righteous world that tells us, you're too good for putting yourself out there physically. You are a great catch and any guy would be lucky to have you. Your humor is appealing, your beauty is beyond, your intellect is superior and every guy should want you but just hold out for the perfect one. And how often do we reinforce that in each other? I'm so guilty of it. I'm so quick to tell a friend there is only one perfect male specimen for her when the truth is that's not a realistic expectation. We aren't perfect for them yet we wait for one to be perfect for us to meet our needs for value and identity. Its self serving and not love at all, not to mention that a guy never can be for me or any other woman what only Christ can be. As another man put it "when we know that Christ's blood has made us pure then we adorn ourselves in purity. And that's the most attractive dress you will ever put on". As a woman that is a tough pill to swallow- to really meet my desires for love and significance face to face for what they really are; but the reward of being brought back to a truth as sweet as those two sentences is worth it!

Because at the end of the day I am still a sinner unworthy by nature. There is nothing about me or within me that without Christ is attractive. For the first lie, my body gives me no worth without Christ indwelling it. And we are made in his image...its his image we mimic and if there is anything about mine or any ones body that makes it naturally attractive its purely because he designed us to reflect his beauty. For the second lie, there is absolutely nothing about me internally worthy of perfection from anyone else and yet Christ still chose to give me himself! My heart is decietful, selfish and stone. It doesn't desire to lay down for another and it doesn't seek the best of another. Anything good within me is nothing short of Jesus and his transformation which I cannot take credit for either. The same is true of men, they are just as human as I am. Now not to say Christ won't use a man to call us into deeper intimacy with him and that he won't use two becoming one to do HIS perfect work in us- but to long for a human to be what only Christ is just won't work.

So ladies, we have got to stop holding out and looking for Mr Right and realize He already has found us and he already chose us! He has called me his and compares my beauty to no one else! He has given me identity as His father's daughter, significance as His eternal bride, and purpose here to share His beautiful truth with the world I come in contact with. So ladies with all the grace in the heavens I say, stop searching and seek Christ alone! He has adorn you with his finest jewels and robe, he has prepared a feast in your honor and home like no other! So let's bare the weight of glory and not our mid-drifts. Let us show the world a beauty unlike anything this world can ever know and put the clevage away. Let us carry righteousness with us and not a bitter heart. And may we always know our "prince charming" found us, laid down his life for us, and before the world began he knew us!

 Because as the scripture says, beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Christ is out to create that kind of beauty within us and he will not settle for anything less! You are loved, you are worthy, and you are BEAUTIFUL!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Love letter to my future kids....maybe

When I turned 21, my papa wrote me a letter that has stuck with me. It simply was a poem; it's name and author unimportant but it's content was life giving. As I moved into adulthood my now 88 year old grand father wanted to give me all the life he had to offer...for that I am grateful.

Sunday as I listened to my pastor speak on the book of judges, and very boldly proclaim that within it there is a warning against sin for everyone....our humanness. Pure fallen humanness that will always get us in trouble. I listened to him talk about how one of Israel's greatest sin was they failed to teach the next generation of the immeasurable faithfulness God had shown them. So I thought about my own encounters with men and women who haven't hesitated to speak God's faithfulness over me, especially my precious loving papa, and if I were to have children what would I want them to know? How would I present the gospel to them? What warnings or my own sins would I want them to listen to and take heed from? So I decided to write them a letter...

Dear future children,
I must admit it feels strange to write to someone whom doesn't exist on earth yet (or maybe ever) but that's the perfect segway for what I want to tell you. I may not know you yet but your father in heaven does. He loves you without comparison! He has known you before he ever decided when he will knit you in my womb! He has intricately decided your every detail: your hair, eye color, even the precise pigment of your skin. He made every cell in your body! He has formed your fragile heart in his mighty gentle hand. He knows you inside and out. He knows your sense of humor well. He knows what makes you tick and what will tick you off. He knows why you feel the way you do even when you don't. He knows what will tempt you and what gives you pleasure. He is not surprised by anything you do or think or want or feel. Since he knows you so well, let him in. Don't be embarrassed by or ashamed of who you are. Instead go to him. Trust Him. Know that he is the only one who will ever "get it" every single time, that he will always get you!

To my daughter:
You are BEAUTIFULLY and wonderfully made! I say it not because I will have the blessing of being your mom but because God said it was TRUE OF YOU. You are His creation made in his image, not mine, not your father's, but your God's holy image. Unfortunately you will struggle throughout your life to believe lies. Lies that tell you you aren't enough; you aren't skinny enough or have enough curves or beautiful enough or good enough or smart enough or that you don't matter enough. Sadly this WILL be an ugly cycle you WILL battle. That's why its so crucial, it's so imperative you take EVERY thought captive! Every day you will walk into a fallen broken world with an enemy that seeks to devour every ounce of light, love, trust, and joy you possess. So every day please be prepared. There are a few ways you can do that. One and the most important is love the Lord with all of you're heart and soul- He will protect that love! Give him your entire mind and body, because these will be the weakest and quickest to wander. They also will be the ones that will get you in the most trouble, especially your mind. You need to know as a woman your thought life will be your down fall if you don't protect yourself by entrusting it to the Lord. Another way to protect yourself is to be careful the company you keep. You are not super woman and the fact is worldly things and people are enticing, especially boys, but even just in choosing you're friends you are going to have to choose wisely who you spend your time with and who you allow to speak into your life. IT MATTERS. I know there will be so many days you won't believe me, and that's okay because I didn't believe my mom either but it is still true. Third, your body is a temple, it is the dwelling place of the God most high, the holy sovereign Spirit, don't take it lightly! Please Don't give it away to just anyone but save it for the one God has called you to. But as important as it is to save yourself for marriage, its more important you dedicate yourself to Christ because he will never use or abuse you, he will love you and he has a plan for you! Next, find an older woman (or more) you trust and is/are wise and loves the Lord wholeheartedly! These Mentors will be your best ally second to Christ. These women will teach you and challenge you and lead you, they will push you to be a woman worthy of your calling but mostly they will simply love you and speak life into yours and point you back to your loving savior. As much as I will love you, I won't be enough for you and that's also okay because I was never intended to be, Christ always has been and will be enough for you! And he will send you amazing sisters and mentors to bring about the transforming work he will do in your life- SO CHOOSE TRANSFORMATION! Our World has nothing to offer you, I promise. Lastly, show your father you love him by respecting and obeying him. Until You marry he is your leader and he will love you and lead you down life giving paths. When You meet your husband, show him you love him by respecting him and submitting to him. Not passively out of strict obedience but willingly because you trust Christ in him (so choose him wisely) and you love him. But when that doesn't fit how you feel then resort back to doing it out of obedience because he is responsible for you and he is your leader. And always know that you are loved without measure!

To My son:
Son, the best advice I can give you is listen to your father. Not just your earthly father but your loving heavenly father. Your father here will know your struggles and he will lead you and point you To Christ. He will help you navigate those tricky paths. Honestly as a woman and your mother, there will be lots of things I won't understand and I won't relate to. Your dad will. Christ will too. He has experienced every temptation you will, and did without blemish so seek him and his will. He won't just be helpful for teaching you and guiding you, He Will LOVE YOU and understand you! He Will Not shame you instead he will make you new! Lets Go ahead and address the female subject. One, as much as I know they will be a big struggle for you, they won't be your only struggle and you ARE MORE than your struggles. They do not define you and are not your identity, Christ is. So beware lies and temptation! You are a mighty warrior and you need to be ready for battle- so suit up! Next, as a woman I expect you treat them with dignity and respect in every phase of life. They are not objects to obtain but people worthy of love. Own your struggle, own your body, own your eyes, own your thoughts. Take them captive. Don't play the blame game, be a man of integrity. You will never know the weight your actions have on them. Your struggle is your flesh, theirs is the mind. So watch how you live life around them...be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little hands what you feel, and be careful little tongue what you say. Do yourself a favor and find godly men you trust to lead you and show you how to be a man worthy of your calling. When you finally do marry, be sure to lead your wife with firm conviction. She needs you to and if you don't her temptation will be to take control herself...it's the result of her fall just as passiveness is a result of yours. Love her with commitment over passion, because passion is inconsistent. she needs love and to know she is safe because the world lies and tells her she isn't worthy and no man is to be trusted. Reflect Christ and his love. You won't do it perfectly but if you choose well she will extend you grace as you will her when she fails you. Most importantly, love Christ with all you have! I am still young and as you will learn youth doesn't come with wisdom and grace, I won't always have answers, I wont always handle things right but the beauty in that is you have a loving savior who does. He will always be patient and kind, and He will guide you with his strong right hand.

If God does give me the immense responsibility and joy of being your mother let me go ahead and apologize for all the times I will fail you and all the times my sin will be a hindrance. As much as I would love too say I've done life right, I haven't and unfortunately there will be lots of times I will say "do as I say not as I did" because I will understand the consequences of making poor choices. As you grow and learn so will I. I won't be the perfect parent which is one more reason why you need Jesus. He is not a myth or a luxury, he is a necessity and he desires to know you and be know by you.

Lastly children, do everything with integrity, seek the lords will first and foremost. Beware a gossipy heart and an unbridled tongue. Words can give life or they can speak death...you choose. See Beauty in everything and everyone you come in contact with but also be leery and trust your spirit, not your gut. Don't be afraid! Don't fear, you have been given a spirit of courage and a sound mind. Cling to the word of God, its the light to the darkness. Its your instruction manual.  There will be lots of people and philosophies that will pull you in a million different directions so go back to the word when life gets hazy. Your identity lies within it! If there is anything I can offer you that will make your life full and easier to navigate...its the Word. So love it and know it. And when you fail, which you will-there is grace, grace for you and everyone around you. Failure is not to be taken lightly, when you do fail own it and repent it. Allow it to grow you and draw you closer to your savior because he has already forgiven it. Don't fall prey to despair, your hope and assurance is in Christ alone not your performance. Always forgive because you have been forgiven much. Bitterness is not something you want to become your master. Choose Christ, choose grace, choose to love and be loved!

Your maybe future mom

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

a quarter century past

A year older, graciously a year wiser, and a year later I write (haha)...

Tangibly, my blog simply reveals the fickelness of my heart yet to me it whispers grace. Grace for my wandering, grace for my arrogance, grace for the sinfulness I allow to consume me at times...sweet graces.

In a year, a lot has happened; as I suspect most would agree to be true in their own lives as well. Two weeks ago, on my 25th birthday, I took some time to reflect and I still am. First realizing that more than a 4th of my life has past, then reflecting and asking, in a years time-since 24, what's changed? A lot had happened but what has changed?

In a years time, Ive moved out, I've gotten a couple hair cuts, I lost air conditioning in my car, I've spent roughly 255 days with infants-10 year olds and gain countless stories, I've been mentored by 2 different women, I've found deeper intimacy with my community of brothers and sisters. yesterday, I actually got to be a part of the ground breaking at our churches property. I've walked through life with friends as they have walked out tough/good seasons. In a years time, I've gone from a great home to being called to walk out temporal homelessness...again. In a year, Ive gone through countless emotions and hours spent processing them. I've been angry and hurt, I've had to fight bitterness and selfishness, I've had to walk out disappointment and worse- disappointing others, I've walked out a season of loneliness as I've watched my friends leave to go where God has called them. I've lived in fear or anxiousness. It's not always been easy, but...

I've been fortunate to walk out seasons of pure joy and peace, learning to find satisfaction in my salvation and hope alone in my savior! I must confess I don't always find contentment in my salvation alone, and must confess I am prone to put my hope in circumstances or others, or fiscal things. Regardless of how poorly I walk it out, or how consistently I walk it out- In spite of ME- Christ has more for me and He loves me without limitation and He is in the ever going, never ceasing task of bringing the WORLD closer to himself and GLORY to the Father! HE is always at work despite the despair, hopelessness, or turmoil.

Do you hear the sweet chime of God's graces? 

Can you feel the reverberations in your own heart? Can you look at your life and throughout your story and hear the perpetual ringing of God's grace?

 I hear it. I've heard it in EVERY hard conversation I've had with Janet where I've had to come to the end of myself and face the facts that I as long as I choose myself and my desires I choose to hurt someone else. I've heard it in biblical womanhood, where Jenny taught me the necessity of observation and awareness. I hear it in my community group as we hash out truths and speak love over each other. I've heard it from every single person God has sent into my life to be the sandpaper He uses to refine me. I hear it in the books I read, the scripture He speaks over me. Prayerfully, I hear it in the best of times and the worst of times.

Needless to say, a lot has changed in a year, all for good- some of it not always feeling good. But Every bit of it has caused me to go deeper into maturity (spiritual and just pure growing up) and has been a catalyst to spiritual reformation! (by the way, "A call to spiritual reformation" by D.A. Carson is an amazing book and you should stop reading this and read it! but seriously..) God knows I'm prone to wander, He knows my heart is eager but unreliable, He knows me, and THANKFULLY He continues to bring about change in my heart consistently.

But one thing hasn't changed....God.

 He is the same today as he was yesterday, and a year ago from oct. 29. He has always been and always will be. In the midst of our chaotic, evolving world He is the one constant. In a science experiment, he would be the controlled variable. He can't be added to, taken away from, substituted for another...there is no scenario where he does not exsist. But most importantly, His nature is good and compasionate and loving and Powerful and persistent and faithful and SO MUCH MORE!

I read a blog recently that called God a wizard. If God were a wizard, he would be limited by his magic, and his Magic would define what kind of wizard He would be. If his magic was Dark magic, the darkness would consume Him and He would have no ability to be anything other than a Dark Wizard. But God is Light so He can't be Dark. If his magic was true and pure, then He would be a Good Wizard. But even a good wizard has his limitations- his powers are not his owns, he only is the facilitator of magic. So God can't be that either. Neither a good/dark wizard can't create life or bring people back from the dead, or be omnipresent. I can't begin to understand the vastness of God's nature but I know He is incomparable, He is limitless, He is Good and He is God Alone. Because His nature is independant of anything we know or can understand, He is free to do as He pleases. And what pleases him...

                 FORGIVING PEOPLE,
                             CARING FOR PEOPLE,
                                          TRANSFORMING PEOPLE,
                                           CALLING HIS PEOPLE HIS MOST PRIZED POSSESSIONS,


If that's not Tasty stuff, Chicken soup for the Soul if you will, then I don't know what else can be. The God of the universe, all powerful and transcendent of time and spaces, is personally invested in you and me! There is no more satisfaction this world can muster up, I guarantee it!

All that to say that a quarter of a century has past and with in it there were many changes, some temporal some not so, people lost, people born....but one thing remains the same..
 El Olam (The Everlasting God)

MAN! That's good news and it's such a good reminder for my own feeble soul as well.