Hey! I know, I know, I disappeared again. I'm mildly drowning in homework, and I haven't had as much time to myself as I'd like, and I am sorry. I've also been feeling a bit empty, not exactly starved for ideas but something along those lines. I guess I haven't written partially because I don't feel God prompting me to write anything, or more accurately, I haven't been able to put God's prompting into words yet. As always, though, if there's an issue you're dealing with, a question you have, or a topic you want to see discussed, don't be afraid to message or email me and I'd be happy to answer/write about it. God bless,
I think often we don’t even realise how much pressure we’re under every day. We’re supposed to do lots and we’re supposed to look good doing it. We should be good wives and mothers, or we should be preparing for this role if we don’t fill it already. Be involved in the church, the school, the community. We live under this “be who you are” ideal but we all know the reality of visual bias and we feel the pressure to look nice, look young, look sexy; all these different things. And it’s stressful. It’s incredibly stressful for us. I said at the beginning of this year that I wanted to try to be honest, or at least as honest as I reasonably can be when posting things on the internet for the world to read. So in a moment of internet-safe honesty, I’m willing to admit that I’ve been feeling this pressure a lot lately. Leaving for college after Christmas break was maybe a little more emotional than I really wanted to admit at the time. I think I was home just long enough to remember why I love being there, with my family and my friends and the town I’ve known for years. Then I had to leave again, back to a place that is still unfamiliar, still not quite comfortable, 1,800 miles away from everything I consider to be “home”. The day before I had to leave, I got sick of packing and thinking and all of that, so I went for a walk. There’s nothing like Colorado sunshine to remind you that God is still good. It was a little chilly, but it was peaceful. It was a kind of peace that I know I’ve been missing for a long time because I didn’t ever set aside a place for it. And now, being back under the pressure to perform, succeed, all of that stuff that I mentioned back at the beginning, I’m remembering that peace and kind of wondering why I do this to myself. Seeking God’s peace is the ultimate, lasting relief to the pressure and stress that we deal with every day. Emotional health is just as important as physical health. I know when I’m stressed, I start to lose track of the ways I should be honouring God. I lose my temper. I stop “working for the Lord and not for men”(Colossians 3:23). And it’s important to take care of ourselves emotionally because God didn’t create us to be tired and stressed and overworked. Take care of yourself, girl. You need it. You deserve it. Take a night off. Take a walk. Stop arguing with yourself and eat the ice cream. We’re all under pressure. We all need a find a way to cope with that, and we all need to remember that no one else gets to tell us we shouldn’t take time to ourselves. Your emotional health is important, girl, and it’s important for you to learn how to take care of it. Thanks for being so patient! As I mentioned, I'm kind of dealing with a lot in terms of my own emotional health currently, but I'm still trying to keep up. As always, feel free to email or Facebook me (see the "Contact Me" link in the sidebar). And as always, God bless.
Nothing is sadder to me than when someone says they "used to be pretty". I actually cringe every time I hear it. Used to, before what? Before you turned thirty and decided you were old? Before you gained weight? Before lack of sleep or depression or stress took their toll on you? Have I ever mentioned Proverbs 31? I think the description of the wife in this chapter is really powerful."The heart of her husband trusts her," it says.She "works with willing hands", "rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household". She "dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong", and she "opens her door to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy." "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue". Nowhere in the verses does it say that she's pretty. She isn't described as hot or young or sexy. Because this isn't the point. Verse 30 says that "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." So why is it that we have this idea of "used to be pretty"? I think it comes from our own weariness. We're tired of trying to be this and that to fit different images of what we feel like we should be. I've felt it. That feeling of failure when we look at another girl and think that we'll never be that pretty. What we're really saying is "I used to be pretty before I broke my own heart trying too hard". Outward appearances are deceiving. If you're feeling this way, chances are you've been pursuing the wrong things. Remember what we are called to pursue:"righteousness, faith, love, and peace" (2 Tim. 2:22). God has created you to be beautiful; He loves you before you try to be anything, and He will bring you exactly where you need to be in life. The only "used to" that we need to describe ourselves is that "I once was blind but now I see".
As always, let me know how I can pray for you. You can reach me via email or Facebook. I hope you all have a truly beautiful day.
I’m not always very good at being honest. I don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. Being honest with other people, and being honest with myself, especially when I’m struggling with something. You all know someone like me—the press on, keep going, “conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show” kind of people. I have to break down and cry before I admit it’s been a bad day or a rough week. I know every excuse in the world to keep people from asking how I really am. It’s a habit, something I’ve spent years developing. And it’s unhealthy. I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions. Studies show that only 8% of Americans are actually able to keep the resolutions they make. Almost 40% fail in the first month. But I’ve been thinking and praying a lot as I’ve looked ahead into this year, and I think I’ve decided something. Call it a resolution if you want. I want to learn to open my heart. To be honest with myself, with others, and with God. After all, the first step to solving any problem is recognising there is one, and I’m never going to be able to overcome the things I face if I can’t even admit to myself that I’m struggling. I also need to be more honest with other people. Not that I plan on simply announcing to the world exactly what I’m feeling all of the time, but when you can’t even tell your best friend what’s on your mind, something is wrong. Most of all, I want to let God teach me to open myself up to His healing, because He is the only one who can truly overcome everything I face. As the old year passes and the new one comes in, it’s okay to remember where we’ve been; what we’ve come through, what we’ve done, who has been beside us. But it’s also important for us all to let God usher us into a new year. His mercies are new every morning. Let the New Year be the beginning of something new, something God-led. Something beautiful.
Every second of every day, you make a choice. You cannot escape making choices, and you will not always know what those choices will bring. Sin is a choice. So is redemption.
I heard a story once about a woman who threw a pitcher on the ground and then spent all night putting it back together piece by piece. It was tedious and occasionally painful. When we are presented with the choice to give it all up for God, it is not an easy-ride ticket for the rest of life. It's going to hurt at times. It's going to be hard. It's going to be way too easy to invent a million excuses for why we can't or won't. But it is worth it.
Some of the hardest nights we will ever endure are the ones where we begin to question why we've chosen this path. Every little insecurity becomes a whisper in your mind asking you is this really worth letting go? Can I make it? Am I enough? Is God enough?
When you look at your face in the mirror, just your face without any makeup or anything on it, what do you think about? What makes you decide to reach for foundation, blush, mascara; what fuels this need to cover, conceal, hide what we really look like? Why do we photoshop and retouch and still feel unhappy about our photos? And ultimately, what are we so afraid of?
God did not create us to be afraid."For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV).We are haunted by our insecurities and fears of what other people will think and we are so absorbed that we forget how much greater God is than all of this. Our fears prevent us from being real and honest with people. How many times have you told someone "I'm good" even when you're a half-step away from breaking down? We lie because we are afraid of looking and feeling weak; because the thought of how other people might react to our honesty is frightening. But it shouldn't be. God created you with exactly the flaws and strengths He wanted you do have. Nothing you endure is without the guidance and presence of God. We are the children of God and we were made for more than this. 1 John reminds us that"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18, NIV).
Like I said at the beginning; it all comes down to a choice. We can let ourselves drown in our insecurities, or we can choose to let God cast them away. We can surrender to our fears or we can choose to fight them with God's help.
Put down the makeup brush. Stop with the retouch tools. For just one day, stop telling people you're fine and admit to them that you're struggling. Remember that God lets us go through troubles so we can grow, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in admitting that you are not perfect because neither is anybody else. When we lie to ourselves and others by concealing our hurts and our faults, all we do is isolate ourselves and make ourselves feel alone with our fears and failures. God gave us community to build on each other. So today, maybe for the first time in your life, try reaching out. Step outside of your insecurities and remember that God's love is enough to overcome your fears. When we are able to be real with the people around us, we start to bond through our struggles and our relationships with each other and with God are strengthened by it. It's a terrifying choice, and it's probably going to hurt a little or possibly a lot. But no matter how much it hurts, God will not let it kill you. Sometimes the hardest decisions to make are the best ones when we're able to take that leap.
What is prayer? I mean, we know the theory, that praying is talking to God and all of that. But really, that's a very vague description. If I say that I'm #prayingforParis , what does that mean? Especially in times of disaster and trouble, prayer seems like a good way to do nothing and hope the conflict all blows over. But I think this is such a painful misunderstanding of what it means for us to join hands and pray. Not all of us can fly to Paris to track down terrorists. Not all of us can travel as relief workers to all the places impacted by hurricanes and wildfires and other tragedies. Not all of us can afford to donate to agencies trying to help refugees in Syria and Turkey. But that does not mean we are useless! When we are weak, He is strong. When we are helpless, He has a plan. Though prayer may seem a pathetically small offering in the face of such trials, remember that it is so much more than simply a wish for peace. God is listening to our prayers. When it feels like there's nothing we can do, we look to the One who can do something and we ask, we beg Him to touch our world with His healing. When we cannot comfort the grieving, we ask Him to hold them close. One of the big things on social media following the incident is to draw attention to other disasters that have not received nearly as much press as Paris has. I won't tell you who or what to pray for. If God breaks your heart for Paris, pray for Paris. If He's directing your focus to somewhere else, let Him be the one who guides you. Don't shame people for praying for Paris; if that is what God has convicted you to pray for, follow His leading. God gives us all different purposes so that we can reach out to the whole world. So pray. Pray for Paris. Pray for the world. Don't ever stop praying, or letting people know that you're praying. Prayer is not useless. Prayer is the best thing we could be doing right now. It is through this communication with God that He will prompt our hearts to whatever action we are capable of. But while the world sees our actions, the basis of them should always, always be prayer. Please, join me tonight wherever you are in praying for Paris, for Syria, for Lebanon and Mexico and any and every place God lays on your heart. Reach out to God. If you are in any of these places, know that God is still with you. God is still present even in the most hopeless and heartbreaking disasters. He is our protector, our comforter. And it is He to whom I lift my eyes in prayer tonight.
I never used to be big on social media. I didn't even have a Facebook until about six months ago. I have since discovered that what they say is true: social media really does start to take over your life. I tried to document the amount of time I spend scrolling through my Facebook feed, checking notifications, and replying to messages. but I couldn't even keep track. And I think it's a problem. I'm sure you've all heard a lot about how "social media is bad for us, it's taking us away from real meaningful relationships, people aren't interested with the real world.", etc. All true, but what I started to find is that Facebook wasn't just eating up time; it was killing my motivation to do anything else. When I moved here to New York, Facebook became my primary means of keeping in touch with people back home. We'd chat via Facebook messenger, share funny pictures or videos with each other, comment on each others' posts. Scrolling through my feed helped me feel like I was connected with the people and the events going on at home, something I really needed as I made a very dramatic transition. Or at least, something I thought I needed. What I've actually been finding (and I'm sure my roommates can corroborate this statement) is that I'm always talking about home, talking about my friends, about what's going on, everything from my family to the weather. In fact, I've spent so much time thinking about home that I started comparing everything here to the way things are at home. "It doesn't rain like this at home." "We don't have traffic like this at home." "Why won't it snow already; it's snowing in Colorado!" I do want to say briefly that this is pretty normal for a person who's just moved halfway across the country. You miss what you've left and you try to understand where you are now by comparing it to what you already know. This is normal. But the more I thought about home, the more I missed home; the more I missed it, the more I wanted to feel connected to it, and my Facebook and social media time skyrocketed. I spent more time trying to stay in touch with my friends from home than I did putting in a conscious effort to make new friends here. How much time do you spend on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or other social media networks? Do you notice the impact this time has on you? I know I started getting frustrated with Facebook the more time I spent on, but I just kept getting on, posting, sharing, pretending to talk to people. It distracted me from my loneliness, sure, but that isn't the point. God didn't call me to pack up and move so I could spend all my time ignoring the people He'd put around me, people who I know are desperately in need of Him. I think sometimes we substitute a sort of "social media revival" for actual, relational evangelism. We act like posting "I believe in Jesus", "God loves you", or following the classic "type amen and share" is enough. People see it on our wall, we're standing for our faith, and we're encouraging others. Full points for effort, right?
Humans are naturally relational creatures. It is made so clear in Jesus' ministry that relationships were what mattered to him. He spent time with people. He dined with "tax collectors and sinners" (Matthew 9:11). He taught people and stayed in their homes and reached out to them. The early church saw this and they followed this example. We don't bring people the love and mercy of Christ by putting #jesuslovesyou as our Facebook status. I'm not saying these things are necessarily bad; I'm simply says that this is not the extend of the ministry to which God has called us.
Social media is distracting us from the world that's actually physically around us. Do you want to know how many times I actually stopped to check Facebook or messenger while I was typing this post? (The answer: too many). We need to tear our focus away from these pointless distractions and realise that the real world has so much more to offer us. There are real people with real needs and real struggles living all around me; why did I feel like Facebook was my only connection to the world? I'm not going to tell you you should bail on Facebook and all social media entirely; I actually think it can be an incredibly useful tool for us to connect with people who may never hear the Word of God any other way. What I am going to challenge you to do is be aware of the amount of time you spend on social media, and the impact it's having on your life. Are you constantly frustrated as you scroll through pages of people posting their political opinions just to get people riled up? Maybe you need a break. Does the amount of time you spend online exceed the time spent in meaningful conversations with the people around you? Try talking to people. There's a lot more to a person than what they post online. Be careful as you allow the internet into your life, because it's scary and time consuming and often not worth the trouble we go through for it. *News Update: I've officially deleted both Facebook and messenger from my phone; it was taking up too much storage space and WAY too much time.*
What are your thoughts on social media? Have you tried giving it up? What did you find? Always love to hear from you!
I was up before my roommates today. I'm the sort of person who generally doesn't get out of bed until you drag me out or lure me out with food, but I woke up at about 7:15 and just didn't feel like sleeping anymore. I slipped out of the apartment and enjoyed a brief stroll through the rather brisk October air, taking my Bible and my prayer journal with me.
Our campus has these little secret spots; little pockets of forest tucked in among the lawns and landscaping. In particular, we have a big rocky outcropping that juts over the parking lot of my apartment building. It isn't hard to climb up to the top, so I did. I settled myself back into a hidden place in the rock.
And I was still in the presence of the Lord.
I think that sometimes I forget how perfect it feels just to breathe in and know that God is the very breath in my lungs. I forget what it's like to be still and know that He is God. I can't speak for any of you, but I know I often get hung up on the small things--I don't want to get up early, it's chilly outside, people will think I'm weird sitting on top of a big rock at 8am--and I forget how incredibly worth it this time is. I was able to sit, removed from the distractions of people and school and Facebook and just breathe. Feel the air fill my lungs. Over the sirens that seem to be constantly wailing in the distance, I heard birds and squirrels chattering. I hadn't expected to find any of this here, in New York, so far from the forests and mountains of my lovely Colorado. For the first time in days, my heart was truly thankful for all that God has given me. For the first time in days, I wasn't plagued by anxiety or self-doubt or loneliness or any of the other roller coaster feelings I've been experiencing since I came to college. As I focused on He who Was and Is and Is to Come, I remembered to just let myself be. Rather than trying to fill any role or accomplish any task or fit into any category. Just be. Exactly as God made me. No make-up, no fancy clothes or fancy words, just me and God on a chilly October morning.
I have to say I treasure this time. I don't get to steal these moments as often as I could (or should). I almost didn't go this morning, for fear that someone would think I was weird. I'll admit I've struggled a little feeling like I don't have friends here yet. I almost didn't go because I wasn't sure how to meet with God. I feel like I've been very disconnected from Him over the last week or so. I almost didn't go because I've been feeling a lack of purpose in my life, and the last thing I want to do is be out of bed feeling useless and unproductive. But God knew all these things. And He used my time this morning to address each of them, in His timing, in His way. And I just remember thinking how incredibly, indescribably beautiful is He who comes to meet us as we are, who presents Himself in the stillness of an autumn morning or the drops of rain that fall on a September night. My heart is eight times lighter than it was when I left the apartment this morning.
Never let it be said that God is not good.
Tell me about your quiet moments. Sometimes I think we choose not to make room for rest because we think it isn't productive, but remember that we need rest in order to be rejuvenated and reminded of our purpose in Him. He uses rest to heal us, and to bring us closer to His heart. As always, I am happy to pray for you. Leave me a comment, email, or Facebook note. God bless.
This doesn't strictly relate to beauty, but it's important. It's something God sort of put on my heart and I need to share it. I think it's important to remember that God has called us to courage, to something better than this life.
Most of you have probably heard or read about the shooting in Oregon. I cried when I read the articles. It's frightening, knowing these things can and do happen. My prayers go with those who are with the Lord and those who are still struggling to make it. I pray they and their families will be wrapped in God's arms and that He will hold them close. But God also asked me something I wasn't sure I could answer. If I was in that room, if someone had pointed a gun at me and asked "are you a Christian?" would I have said yes? Would I have remembered Jesus' promise that "whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven", even if the risk was my life? Would you? Continue to pray for these families. Continue to pray for Christians everywhere who are in danger of their lives for the message they bring. And have courage. Because even in their final hours God did not abandon them. He will not abandon us. And since He has not abandoned us, we do not need to fear for our lives, because no one can harm us unless it is in His will.
Following is a quote from the BBC article covering the shooting."Stacy Boylan, the father of a woman who survived the shooting, told CNN that his daughter had described how the gunman asked his victims to state their religion before opening fire. According to Mr Boylan, his daughter said the gunman told the Christians he killed that they were 'going to see God in just about one second'." http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34424713
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." -Joshua 1:9
"You give and take away; you give and take away. My heart will choose to say: 'Lord, blessed is your name!'"
I made a mistake today. I came home and hung out with my roommates and some friends in our room for a while—because, you know, I live there—just talking and stuff. Then they started talking about this girl who goes to the school, making comments like “she’s just not pretty” and “she tries too hard”. They scrolled through some pictures, alternately laughing and wincing at her attempts to appear “sexy” and attractive. After a while, I started to feel uncomfortable, imagining how devastated she would be if she could hear what they were saying. I felt like I needed to say something, ask them to be a little more respectful of her in the way they were acting. But I kept my mouth shut. I shouldn’t have. We all need a place to speak our minds, even if what we have to say isn’t kind or friendly. But the mindset that leads us to say things like this about people is a problem. A huge problem. This kind of gossip condemnation of people without consideration of their lives and motives is a complete dismissal of them as a human and individual. This is a problem, ladies. Remember that day when you woke up and you just really wanted people to think you looked nice? You tried something new and maybe a little crazy with your makeup. The new dress you bought last week was a little bizarre but you’re dying to try it out. You go for it. Maybe the look isn’t the best but did you feel good? Maybe the dress didn’t “accentuate your body type” perfectly? So what? Whether someone looks good or not, they are a creation of God. Whether they dress in good taste or not, they are given the right to choose what to wear. Whether you think they are pretty or not, God still created them to be beautiful. Recognising our own God-given beauty is only half the battle we fight as women of God. It is also incredibly important for us to defend each other’s right to be beautiful. Disparaging the way someone dresses or the way someone’s body looks or the way her hair curls in the humidity, whether to their face or to someone else, is removing them from the status of an independent human formed in God’s image and subjects them to an analysis that shouldn’t ever happen because it shouldn’t even matter. So next time you hear someone behaving like this, say something. And next time you catch yourself doing it, apologise. You don’t know why she wore what she wore. You don’t know what she went through trying to satisfy herself with her appearance. You don’t know why she perhaps struggles with her weight. Stop focusing on physical attributes; these don’t even matter! 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that “‘the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
Defend the right to be beautiful. Don’t perpetuate the mindset that you dress so people can analyse your appearance. Don’t make the mistake I made today by not saying something.