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fresh start

2017, the year of no internet posting

Posted in faith, lifestyle

I’ve devoted more time and energy to screens instead of faces for a long time. By God’s grace I have always held it in good balance. I haven’t idolized social media as a way for validation or affirmation. I know who I am in Christ.

But, in a social-media age, it’s even easier for us to be disconnected or disengaged people. People can follow us or friend us without really knowing us. Relationship connections are easy, but if we aren’t careful they can become quite shallow. We now can build a platform or become an influence in others lives just by amassing Twitter and Instagram followers.

I certainly don’t view social media or any form of technology as inherently bad, of course. They can be creative outlets and fun interaction, and they can certainly be used to glorify God, but in this current season, I cannot underestimate the great value of a faithful life lived on the ground and in the ordinary.

This year, 2017, I want to love and know Him more — more completely, more fully. I want to be present for the people around me; to love and listen to and be in the trenches with them better. I want to dig deep into His purpose for me since He knit me together: to radiate and present His glory to the world and to enjoy Him forever.

This is currently a good decision for me, this is not meant to lay on guilt or conviction, that’s not my job. We each have our decisions to make and lives to live.

For me personally to get what my heart longs for, it means a change in where I invest my time, specifically time on the internet, specifically time prioritizing the creation of encouraging, creative, appealing, and helpful online accounts.

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If You Don’t Want To Be Lovely….

Posted in inspiration
(This one is close to home, friends. This comes from a heart triumphant from weary years of fighting perfectionism and a distorted self-image. I want you to read this as though we were sitting across from each other in rocking chairs or comfy couch. I want you to hear this as if I was a good friend, with a bear hug and lots of love.)

Question your value constantly.

Insecurity is unattractive. And it doesn’t feel good. Fight against the self-hatred, the discouragement. Fight against grumbling over what you aren’t and pride about what you are. If you want to lack in real beauty, never stand in your true identity. You are valuable. In Jesus we are fully known and always loved, exposed yet never rejected. Jesus declares his affection for us when we are at our very worst as well as at our very best. Is God the most important person in your life? If He is, you are treasured always. He has made you His own. Because of Jesus, everything that is true about Him is true about you in God’s eyes. You are valuable in a way that cannot be changed because you are His. 

“Start being brave about everything. Drive out darkness and spread light. Don’t look at your weaknesses. Realize instead that in Christ crucified you can do everything.” St. Catherine of Siena

See strangers and even friends as competition.

You’ve heard the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, there’s no room for contentment. If there is no contentment, there’s hardly a chance for strong beauty. If you don’t want to be lovely, in appearance or attitude, see your peers as threats. Your beauty is not supposed to be the same as someone else’s.

God designed us for supporting and connecting and cheering, not competing. Please know that someone else’s success and beauty and growth doesn’t have the power to diminish your own.

“Our riches are the kind that free us from having to be affluent or thin, or intelligent or networked or famous or anything else that the world says we must be in order to matter. Our riches are the kind that assure and reassure us that we have nothing left to hide, nothing left to fear, and nothing left to prove. Because Jesus took on himself the full freight of our shame, we are no longer under pressure to exhaust ourselves with endless and futile efforts to make something of ourselves. We now have an inner resource that can liberate us from preoccupation with self. We now have an inner resource than frees us to treat all people as our equals. We now have an inner resource that endearingly and compellingly invites us to join God in his mission to love.” Scott Sauls

Build life around your external appearance.

You are not your physical features. Be a woman of substance — physical beauty is continually fading. Your physical features can do little to genuinely help someone or the world, but your heart, soul, and your mind? With the Spirit of God in you, you can do incredible things. Build your life around strengthening your inner person.

“When God and His glory are made our end, we shall find a silent likeness pass in upon us; the beauty of God will, by degrees, enter upon our soul.” Stephen Charnock

Put your worth into bubbles that burst.

A sure way to lose your true beauty is to build your life on shifting sand: talents, looks, accomplishments and possessions. These things are temporary, and can change at any moment. Real beauty transcends time. If you seek your worth in anything but God and His unchanging love and pursuit of you, you will be up and down constantly. If you anchor your worth to being well-read, handsome or pretty, wealthy, funny, smart, or even religious, instead of in the smile of God over you, those things will eventually destroy what’s truly good in your life. You’ll be unsteady, probably a little miserable, and easily discouraged. God created you for more.

“Get alone with God and preach His Word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.” John Piper

Where I Am Right Now With Jesus

Posted in faith

God is calling me to taste and treasure Him. Not writings about Him, not service for Him, but Him as a person. Him as my Savior, Father, Lord, and Friend.

Growing up in church (a gift from God), I was continually shown and taught God’s Word, His way of life. I fear that thus far in my life, I continue to shovel more and more words and media about God in, but not letting it take root. Not that resources are bad for us, they can certainly be used for study and growth and encouragement. But I have gotten to a place where I neglect the Person for knowledge about the Person. Does that make sense?

I feel God calling me to a new, fresh, intimate place with Him.

Communing with Him, sitting with Him, abiding in Him. As opposed to reading articles and books about Him, listening to more and more things, filling up my empty space with knowledge and distraction.

What does this look like? I think it looks like less media intake, and more meditating and prayer; making space in my soul for clarity and Holy Spirit-refreshment; and experiencing God as a real, living, active (and best) relationship in my life. 

A small example, I grew up in a tv-watching family. Not a bad thing, but it’s a default for me when I’m cleaning or alone at home to put on a show or movie. So on a Sunday afternoon, my tendency is to binge watch a show for a few hours, thinking it’s restful for me, as opposed to taking a nap. Watching all that tv only fills my mind with thoughts of those characters and plot lines, when a nap to relax my mind for a few hours would’ve been much more beneficial in preparation for the work week ahead.

I don’t know about you, but I only have so much capacity to take things in before I feel numb, stretched thin, and jumbled. The less distracting, mind-numbing, not actually beneficial to my life things… the more room God has space to fill.

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Your Body Matters

Posted in wellness

heartnatured.comRemember my thought spill from a couple of weeks ago? If not, feel free to read it here. Let’s also go ahead and be upfront about the fact that I overthink things. But God is good.

Even though that post ends with a more positive, seemingly triumphant mantra, not much changed. But, God in His goodness, is making things new.

One day, recently, I tearfully confessed to J a realization:

I believed being fit was a necessary standard to meet if I wanted to please God — being the right amount of pounds for my height, being able to run or bike many miles, the discipline to dedicate 30+ minutes a day to exercise (because this is what culture deems good enough).

Wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, exercise is a great way to deepen enjoyment of life and to take care of our bodies, but it’s not a prerequisite for love, from God or people.

And I don’t even think it pleases God if you’re miserable with yourself, working for the glory of you or using exercise to avoid something difficult or uncomfortable. There is not right or wrong size of a person, but there is a point that for you is unhealthy and unhelpful to your life.

Being fit, or the number on the scale as a result of exercise, doesn’t equate godliness (1 Timothy 4:8). If it did, what would that mean for those who can’t exercise, for those bound to a sick or aging body? That doesn’t make sense.

I don’t think exercise is a prerequisite for a full life in Christ — it’s more a bonus of this temporary home. 

 


 

Shauna Niequist, in her latest book Present Over Perfect, makes this declaration:

This is the promise I make to my God: I will never again be so careless, so cavalier with the body and soul you’ve given me. They are the only things in all the world that have been entrusted entirely to me, and I stewarded them poorly, worshiping for a time at the altars of productivity, capability, busyness, distraction. This body and soul will become again what God intended them to be: living sacrifices, offered only to him. I will spend my life on meaning, on connection, on love, on freedom. I will not waste one more day trapped in comparison, competition, proving, and earning. That’s the currency of a culture that has nothing to offer me.

Talking about Romans 12:1-2, John Piper says, “You belong to God soul and body, or you don’t belong to him at all. Your body matters.” To me, this screams freedom.

God cares about my body, He created it uniquely to house my heart, soul, and mind, and to make His beauty visible. To make His love tangible for people. He doesn’t shine through my muscles, curves, or how much space I take up, but through the way I act.

John Piper challenges me again,

“Let every act of your living body be a demonstration that God is your treasure. Let every act of your living body show that Christ is more precious to you than anything else. Let every act of your living body be a death to all that dishonors Christ.”

This releases fitness and body image from being an arena to compare or compete or prove, to a place of fun and freedom, a living and active sacrifice!

 


 

After this beautiful realization, I asked God, now that I have a better perspective on exercise, why should I spend the time sweating and challenging myself in this way?

This was the answer: For my husband, for our home, for our future. 

  • For my husband, because while I believe he will always think of me as beautiful, it doesn’t hurt for me to offer a little help. So I’ll take care of myself with activities I enjoy and beneficial foods, to help continually enjoy each other.
  • For our home, to energetically clean our home, keep up with the dishes and laundry, keep our herbs and plants from dying. To happily make it a hospitable and safe place to host loved ones, to use it as a resource to be generous. In my experience, strength and energy help in these areas.
  • For our future, taking care of my body because it will eventually be a home for a tiny human one day. I want to give them their best chance also, and it’s up to me because they will be growing inside of my body. The body I can choose to not care about, to treat poorly, or the body I can strengthen and enjoy.

All of that to say, if you’ve come at a crossroads with your body, or your exercise, or if you want to pick up activity for the first time, ask God to give you your own personal reasons and joy in it. Yours will look different than mine, and mine will look different than someone else’s.

It’s good, and I hope God continues to get the glory from our bodies.

a sweet gift you can give God

Posted in faith, inspiration

I believe one of the sweetest gifts you can continually give to your Heavenly Father is embracing and walking confidently in your unique, beautiful self.

Does that make sense? If you are a Christian, you are in Christ. Being in Christ means a lot of things, but one is that it is a real, actual, living and breathing relationship. You have a perfectly loving Heavenly Father.

A Father who knit you together, pieced you together, to be precisely you.

You. Your personality, quirks, habits, features, passions. What comes naturally, what is more challenging.

Me. Curly hair, conversationalist, perfectionist, sensitive, emotional, diligent. Eats too much peanut butter. Likes to have a plan, hates to arrive late. Enjoys time alone. Creative because God is creative.

The Bible says we are God’s handiwork. His craftsmanship. (Ephesians 2:10) Part of His creation. Fully loved and completely accepted.

It makes me sad to realize how this culture has taken it upon itself to name ‘beauty’ as one particular mold or set of features. Right?

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