VOTE! Just Do It!

VOTE! Just do it!

If for no other reason than the Supreme Court appointments that will be chosen by the next president. Who is appointed will greatly impact religious freedom. We have been losing this freedom more and more.

But more importantly, just vote and forget about it. Everything that happens on this earth only happens because God allows it to happen. He will always be our ultimate Ruler and King!

God can use anyone for His good purposes. He is not limited by who we elect. He is not limited by anything.

So, go, exercise your God given right to vote. And have confidence and peace in the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord and He will prevail!

And, God can bless America, no matter what we do to it!

 

 

My Vanity Fast Part 3: THE CHALLENGE

In Part 1 and Part 2 we talked about what beauty is not, so let’s talk about what beauty is.

Beauty is an older woman at church who is struggling with a family that is falling apart. Even through the tears, she is praising her God because His is good.

Beauty is a woman who stays in a lifeless and loveless marriage to honor the promise she made before God.

Beauty is a woman who stays home with her kids to raise them. She is lonely. She feels like sacrificing her career has caused her to fall behind in the world. But, she loves her God and trusts the good work He is doing in her and in her kids.

There is such beauty in a woman who is willing to suffer for her God.

Beauty is  a woman who struggles with poverty working multiple jobs to support herself and her kids. She works tirelessly and has very little for herself. Yet, she loves and praises her God, and strives to live a righteous life. Her hope is found in Christ.

Beauty is a friend who was a missionary for seven years. Despite loneliness and isolation when she comes off the field, she is still trusting the Lord, and she is ready to be ‘sent out’ once again.

Beauty is a woman who is so in love with the poor people of Africa that she considers that home instead of her home in this country, and those children like her own kids.

Beauty is a woman who is willing to let God break her heart for what breaks His.

Beauty is any woman who loves God who is messy, sinful, wretched, and occasionally veers off the narrow path. But she gets back on the path and praises her Heavenly Father who saved her.

What does God say about beauty?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it 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 3:3-4

God’s standard for beauty is a gentle and quiet spirit. One who is desperately pursuing righteousness in Jesus Christ.

I know that I can never live up to being a Proverbs 31 woman. To be honest, it is among my least favorite scriptures in the Bible. I am messy. I am wretched. And I am strong willed.

I often feel as though I am striving, but never reaching that high bar.

But I know I’m OK. As long as my eyes are on Him. As long as Jesus is my Lord. And, as long as I couple action with my faith, God will be glorified through me.


So, how can you learn to love yourself regardless of what you see in the mirror? I can’t answer that question for you. The best I can tell you is this,

The most beautiful thing that you, or I, could see in the mirror is JESUS.

True beauty is found in Jesus Christ. Such immense love cannot help but being stunningly beautiful. And, if we mirror the image of Christ, we will be stunningly beautiful too.

The Vanity Fast Challenge

If you are like me and have blurred the lines of beauty and identity, it’s time to bring things back into focus. And with focus comes freedom.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.   Galatians 5:1

I challenge you to try a vanity fast, and I pray that God uses it to show you truth. Whether it is one week, one month, or one year is up to you. What could it hurt? Why not step out of your comfort zone and see what is on the other side? It just might be freedom.

Will a vanity fast be an instant cure? Probably not. Anything worth having takes work and happens in God’s timing. And, if you are anything like me, you are a slow learner!

I would like to say after five weeks of my vanity fast that the ties of beauty and identity have been completely severed. I’m fixed . . . . HALLELUUUUIAH! But, I’m not. Let’s just say I am one of God’s tougher cases!

But that is OK with me. Because I am tirelessly working toward truth, the freedom God has for me, and becoming more like Him. And, I am beginning to see the light of victory at the end of the tunnel.


Read Part 1 here

Read Part 2 here

 

My Vanity Fast and the 4 deceptions of beauty: Part 2

Read part 1 here

A couple weeks ago I was chatting with my youngest daughter on our sun porch.

“Emily is so much prettier than I am,” she said.

Emily, My oldest, is sixteen and curvy. Jessica is skinny—she takes after her father. No matter what I say to Jessica, she can’t seem to accept that she is beautiful just the way she is. She has an adorable body that looks good in everything, perfect olive colored skin, and naturally highlighted hair that women my age would pay big bucks for.

She is perfect. Yet she still questions what her boyfriend sees in her.

We, as women/girls, are never happy. It’s as if we are conditioned to not be content with who we are. Girls who are skinny wish they were curvy, and those who are curvy wish they were skinny. Girls with curly hair wish they had straight hair and girls with straight hair wish they had curly hair. 

I wish that my daughter could see what her father and I see. And I’m sure God wishes that we would see what He sees in us.

Let’s continue with the 4 deceptions of beauty . . . . 


3. We are never good enough

I have struggled my entire life with identity and self worth. Many of us have.

Early in life, I got attention for my looks, way more attention than I ever got for who I wasgirl looking out window urbane inside. When this starts at a young age, you believe what the world tells you. You believe your worth is in your beauty. And, it is very difficult to break free and believe differently.

‘A woman’s worth is tied to her youth and beauty’ is a lie cooked up by the enemy. He wants us to think that we are just eye candy for the viewing pleasure of men.

Satan feeds young girls lies that are so easily accepted as truth. They sound good at first, as many of Satan’s deceptions do. Being attractive when you are young is fun. It feels good. It makes you popular. And if you are beautiful, you are celebrated.

Deception is Satan’s greatest tool.

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”   Genesis 3:4-5

And we all know that beauty doesn’t last forever. After a lifetime of believing your identity is in your beauty, you find yourself enslaved by it. How do you break free?

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.   Proverbs 31:30

Being a woman today is hard. We live in a culture that says that women must change almost everything about themselves to be good enough. We change our hair color, eye color, skin color, cook ourselves, squeeze ourselves into clothes that are three sizes too small, and put on push-up bras because we think we are not good enough.

Where does it end? When are we, as girls and women, good enough?

Social media and television define beauty for us. They have set the standard, and girls are watching. When girls grow up with these wrong messages about beauty, they often confuse beauty with their identity.

Untitled design (6)Our daughters grow up being told that the purpose of their life is to be forever young and beautiful.

The truth is, if we are trying to live up to the world’s standards, we will never be good enough.

The only standard that we need to concern ourselves with is God’s standard. And, God’s Word gives us the truth about age and beauty.

A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.   Proverbs 16:31

Often, what we really want from beauty is to feel accepted, included and pursued. But do we realize that we were made acceptable in Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God, and we are fervently pursued by Abba, Father? 

To them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.   John 1:12-13

True beauty is found in Jesus Christ, the One who paid the price for this wretched world. What He did on the cross was truly and completely beautiful.

God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.   Romans 5:8

If we want to be truly beautiful, we must reflect the image of Christ.

4. Being beautiful can never make you strong or powerful

I recently watched, The Devil Wears Prada. It is a movie about a girl who is transformed into a beautiful woman working at a fashion magazine. At the beginning, she is seemingly unattractive, and therefore, not valued. However, when she finally changes and is beautiful and stylish, she is suddenly competent and powerful.

When we feel strong, confident and powerful because we look good, we are being deceived. It isn’t truth. Beauty can hold no power. Shiny, luxurious hair can give us no strength. A pencil skirt, flattering jeans, or the perfect pair of boots can’t do anything for us. 

Power does not come from long eyelashes or long cascading hair.
Power does not come from a lean, muscular body.
Power does not come from perfectly white teeth, or flawless skin.
Power does not come from a french manicure or waxed eyebrows.
Power does not come from being a perfect size __ .
Power does not come from perfectly tanned legs, or a tiny waist.

So, if power doesn’t come from physical beauty, where does power come from?

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being   Ephesians 3:16

If being powerful is what you seek, then go to the source. God is the most powerful being that ever was, is or ever could be. He is the source of power, the author of power, and the giver of power. Our power is in Christ alone.

In Christ alone


Join me next week for part 3 as I’ll be wrapping up our discussion on beauty and presenting a challenge. 

Read Part 1 here

My Vanity Fast and the 4 deceptions of beauty: Part 1

Five weeks ago, I started my second annual summer vanity fast. Woo hoo!

Not vanityfest mind you, . . . . vanity FAST!  (a very important distinction, indeed)

What is a vanity FAST, you might ask? Instead of giving up food, I am giving up makeup for five weeks. Vanity is an area of my life that I have a hard time surrendering to God. 

‘What’s the big deal about not wearing makeup?’ you might ask. Well, makeup is a very big deal for me! Vanity has been a stronghold in my life. I know it. God knows it.

I have depended too much on my looks for confidence and power.

The unassailable fortifications of your walls He will bring down, Lay low and cast to the ground, even to the dust.  Isaiah 25:12 (NIV)

I write this blog post about beauty and identity because I know that I am not alone. What woman isn’t to some degree affected by her perception of beauty? I don’t know any.

We must bring this important issue to light.

Light exposes the true character of everything.   Ephesians 5:13 (GOD’S WORD® Translation)

The messy entanglements of beauty and identity are pervasive in our culture. Too many women are slaves to beauty. We were not created for bondage. We were created for freedom!

Although we were made beautiful and acceptable through the blood of the Lamb, somewhere along the way, we were deceived.

I believe there are four deceptions of beauty. I will address the first two deceptions in Part 1. The second and third deceptions are in Part 2. And Part 3 is a challenge.


1. Vanity can become self worship

Every year, as summer approaches and the t-shirts come out, I remember how white and hairy my arms are. Yep, I said it,  . . . . white and hairy! Ugh!

I look at other women, and they have smooth, beautiful, hairless arms. Can it be that I am the only hairy one?! And, I don’t go to the tanning salon, so until mid-June I am pretty pasty. It really bothers me. I feel ugly, ugly, hairy and white!

I don’t wax my eyebrows. At any given moment I could have a rogue, unplucked eyebrow hair out of place . . . . scandalous!! I refuse to get my eyebrows waxed because it’s one more thing. And, I don’t need one more thing to do for vanity!

Don’t get me wrong, I do normally wear make up. I do color my hair, and love it! (Nice ‘N Easy 98 baby!) And I do occasionally lay out in the sun.

However, I refuse to wax my eyebrows, shave my arms (not armpits – I’m not a savage!), paste on fake eyelashes, and go to a tanning salon. I know that if I give in to one more of these beauty rituals I will be worshiping the big ‘V’. . . . Vanity!

And, let’s just call it what it is . . . . it’s worshiping myself!

We all have to draw our line in the sand!

Satan would love for me to take my eyes off of Christ and stare adoringly in the mirror for hours. What better idol is there than . . . . ME?!! And, if I have enough ‘beauty’, I can get other people to worship me too!

After all, according to the late Whitney Houston, the greatest love of all is inside of ME!!

Me, me, me!! It’s all about me! . . .  wait a minute! That’s not right! It’s all about Him. It’s all about God and bringing HIM glory.

I’m on to you, Satan!

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.   2 Corinthians 11:14

2. Vanity is a distraction

Have you heard of fiber lashes? Or, eyelash extensions? A friend was selling these products a while back. I remember thinking, ‘If I use these products I will probably be more beautiful.’ However, I knew then as I know now, God doesn’t want me to be more beautiful. He wants me to be more like Him

As a Godly woman, beauty is not the end goal, holiness is. Holiness in us brings glory to God. Yet, how much time do we spend focused on our vanity every day verses focused on our holiness?

He has saved us and called us to a holy life.   2 Timothy 1:9

I am a writer and work from home. One day a week I wear my best clothes, paint my toenails, and do my hair. It’s Sunday. For church I get all ‘dolled’ up. Instead of ‘come as you are’ I feel like it’s ‘roll out the red carpet’. It sometimes feels like a fashion show. And I feel as though I have to measure up.

Am I thinking about God and preparing myself for worship as I head to church? Not so much. Has vanity distracted me from truly being the church? Yes. God, forgive me. 

We must ask ourselves . . . . 

Is our beauty distracting us from the ultimate beauty of an amazing God? Are we missing the freedom He offers us because we are too busy being slaves to beauty?

We must surrender our beauty to God and stop wasting time obsessing over it.

And trust me, I know that it is easier said than done.


The second and third deceptions of beauty are discussed in Part 2.

Read Part 2 here

Margin or The Rat Race

After 14 exhausting but wonderful years of raising kids and homeschooling for a few of them, I am finding that my life is finally calming down. I am incredibly blessed to now have time and margin in my life.

About a year ago, I discontinued homeschooling when my husband and I felt God leading us to send my youngest daughter back to public schools. It was absolutely the right thing to do at the right time – Praise God!  However, the week that she went back was one of the hardest weeks of my life.

Since then, my time has been filled with bible studies, coffee with friends, doing some writing, and seeking God’s will for my life. However, the biggest blessing has been the time that I have had for thinking and reflecting; and, spending time in prayer.

My natural tendency is to be a ‘Mary’ and sit at the feet of Jesus.  I have less ‘Martha’ in me than I would care to admit. So, I have been able to sit with God and soak in every drop of what He has in His Word for me.  I have let it wash over me like a tidal wave; like a healing rain.  He has built a hunger and thirst for His Word within me.  What a remarkable thing that is!The-Bible-giving-girl-a-hug

I look forward to my bible studies now more than anything.  I am hungry for God’s Word.  For the first time in my life reading the bible is not a chore.  I am starting to see it for what it really is . . . the living, breathing, Word of God.  It is a toolbox, a gift, a love letter, a mirror, an admonition, and a glimpse into our future with Him.

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.”  Jeremiah 15:16

I also spend my days cooking, cleaning, and basically keeping my home and family running. In addition to that, I am half way through a Doctor of Naturopathy program at an online school. I also co-lead a women’s bible study at my church, and, obviously, I write a blog.

At times, my life is definitely full and a little crazy, but not all the time.  I am very fortunate to have what most people don’t . . . . . margin.

According to Dr. Richard A. Swenson, M.D., margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits.

Not many people experience margin in their life. So, I feel like I stand out like a sore thumb.

Pressure from Society

I feel tremendous pressure all around me because I am not working. Pressure from society and pressure from the culture.

There is a voice in my head that says that I should be working; that I should be earning a paycheck; I need to be eternally busy or I am being lazy.  It says that If I’m not running 90 miles an hour and busy from dawn until dusk, than I am not doing enough.

I battle the guilt of not contributing financially to our household, not contributing to the economic machine of capitalist America, and not living the distracted, mundane life that can be a prison sentence here on earth.

I also feel guilty because I don’t have to work, like so many single mothers or families that are financially strapped. My heart goes out to them. I am very fortunate to have a husband who gets payed well.

I feel resentment from friends who have to work to make ends meet, and friends who are miserable in their jobs. I see how their jobs consume them.

I don’t have a job with a paycheck. Does that make my life less valuable than others’?


How busy is busy enough?  Who gets to decide?


The Accepted Way of Life: Busyness

I think that everyone would agree that we live in a workaholic society. Our country is drowning in busyness, and we’re proud of it!

“As a society, we’ve forgotten what margin is.  In the push for progress, margin has been devoured.”  – Margin, Richard A. Swenson, M.D.

Middle class America esteems those who work way too much. Dare I say that we make our jobs an idol?

This is not to say that you can’t find great meaning and purpose in your job. And, I am not saying that it is impossible to keep your job in its proper place. Many people do it, and do it well. For some, their workplace is their mission field and God does great things through them there.

However, most people I know work hard all day at a frustrating job that they don’t like and come home deflated. I can picture them at the end of the day, falling down in their easy chair in an exhausted heap.  Living the dream, right?!

“The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” Lilly Tomlin

Do I have the right?

So, I need to dissect this. Do I have any right to not run the rat race?

Am I allowed to have a season of life that is calmer and less hectic? Do I have the right to a season of reflecting . . . . of being still . . . . of seeking God’s direction for the next steps in my life? Or, am I required to instantly jump into the next thing so that I am working?

Did God intend for us to live life in a frantic state of continuous activity? Did He intend for our lives to be just a blur?  Simply a means to an end?

I don’t have a job, but that doesn’t mean that I do not work.  It does not mean that I do not contribute to society.  It does not mean that I’m not busy. It means that I am not busy ALL of the time.

God definitely calls us in seasons to push ourselves to the limit.  But, I don’t think He intended for us to always live at that pace. God allows us to rest.

“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”  Psalm 116:7

God also has a lot to say in scripture about our work. Obviously, He does not want us to be lazy. God made us to work, to be productive, and to live with purpose.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”  Genesis 2:15

However, above everything, He wants us to give our lives completely to Him.

“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:58

Seasons

seasons_of_change_by_autumnsgoddessRight now, I am in a season of transitioning, learning, growing, and waiting on the Lord.  I desire to use my giftedness to love and serve others.  In what venue or arena or circumstance I don’t yet know. I want to love God by being His hands and feet.

I feel the strong need for prayer, and to be still enough to hear His voice. I don’t want to miss it. He has been so good to me, and I want to give Him my everything.

He may want me to get a job and use me there. He may be calling me to ministry.  He may want me to wait on Him; wait and focus on disciplining my children in Christ, being a helper for my husband, and being available to love and serve others in my community as Christ did.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Awake, sleep no more!

On the treadmill this morning I noticed something as I was watching Good Morning America.  The thought hit me that, this isn’t real.

I usually flip between the Today show and GMA when I am working out in the morning. As I watched the polished hosts banter with one another and talk about shoes and good_morning_america_a_hwrinkle cream, and Kim Kardashian, my mind went numb. I watched people gathering around the fences outside of Rockefeller Center trying desperately to get a glimpse of  Pitbull, or John Legend, or whoever.  I watched the who’s who of Hollywood on this segment and on that.

Most of these shows celebrate celebrities, dwell on fashion and beauty, and gossip about breakups and Hollywood drama. They deify the successful, the beautiful, and the rich and powerful. 95% of what I see on these morning shows are nonsense. It is a distraction from what is real.

“We have so much stimulation that we’re going numb.  We stumble into the fog . . . . we sleepwalk to a place where nightmares replace dreams”  Beth Moore, Children of the Day 

Television and much of pop culture is a dream world that Satan uses to keep us ‘asleep’. We get sucked in so easily to what we hear and read on TV, on the web, or on social media. They tell us what should be important to us and how we should live our lives.

Satan wants to keep us in a dream like state; keep us distracted.  When we are mesmerized with this world, we are useless to God.

You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.  1 Thessalonians 5:5-6

It makes me think of the ‘capital’ in the movie The Hunger Games. The capital was the place where the rich, privileged people lived in a futuristic world where freedom is lost to the government.  The people in the capital were strange and wore strange clothes and had goofy colored hair.  It was an obvious fantasy world that they lived in.  They weren’t real.

Sadly, generations of young people are brought up with a distorted sense of reality.  And I don’t just mean because the celebrities and supermodels distort the way young girls view their bodies, which they do.  I mean, the whole picture isn’t reality.  What is portrayed is that beauty is very important, looking young is important because older people have less value, celebrities are more important than the rest of us, and pop cultures should be our way of life.

We have to ask ourselves, ‘is this real’?  We have to teach our kids to constantly ask themselves, ‘is this real’?  And, the only way to answer that question is to check it against the Word of God.

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:17

Is beauty important?

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Proverbs 31:30

Do older people have less value?

Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?  Job 12:12

Are celebrities more important than the rest of us?

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28

Should we adopt pop culture as a way of life?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.   Romans 12:2

Ask God to show you what is real.

I would define real as anything that is eternal or has eternal impact.  God is REAL, His Word is REAL, and His creation is REAL. God sending His only Son die for us  . . . . that’s REAL!

” . . . Then, something wakes us up. . . . and we are . . . Awake to the activity of God around us; awake to His Word on the surface of the page; awake to the lightning before we hear the thunder; awake to our present season; awake to our people; awake even to our pain lest it end up meaning nothing.”  Beth Moore, Children of the Day

Fighting for lasting marriages, struggling to find purpose in life, raising kids to know Jesus, loving our neighbors, worshiping the Creator, thirsting for God’s Word, feeding the poor, walking in loneliness, searching for belonging, and experiencing suffering.  This is what is REAL in this life!  Matters of the soul are real. Dealing with big questions about serious and sometimes dark subjects are real.

“Our faithful God won’t leave in endless hibernation those of us who still show a pulse for Him.  He seeks to break into our awareness and restore our vision.  God can use a fresh dream to wake us up.”  Beth Moore, Children of the Day

So, let us awake! Be asleep no more!  Let every eye open and every ear eagerly await the word of the Lord, for He is good!

A good scripture to study on this subject is Ephesians 5:6-18

6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness,but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.