Celebrate the Beauty You ARE!

Wow, if this isn’t full circle. God has loved me back to life. I was beautiful at twenty (and didn’t know it), but feel even more so turning fourty. Why? Because of what I’ve been through. Who I’ve clung to. And, Who has never let go of me!

I started this blog off admitting and dealing with imperfection. I realize now that it’s in spite of our imperfections that our friends and family love us (or should), and it’s because of our imperfections that Jesus died for us. We can and should work on improvement, but perfection cannot be the goal. We’ll never make it.

It’s hard for me to take selfies. I do it, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I don’t obsess over them or use a bunch of filters, I just struggle with flaunting external beauty. Maybe because of what I think of others who do or maybe just maybe because I want others to know there’s more to me. Ultimately, I need to know that myself. We all do.

I have no problem taking pictures of my daughters’ physical beauty because I already know there’s so much more…. I WANT to take my girlfriends pictures because I think they are absolutely stunning and I love them/you and I know there’s more. Maybe someone struggles like me and I’m here to help you! You are more. Your beauty is not just in how you look, but you needn’t shy away from your outer beauty either.

You are beautiful. How do I know? Because, God made you in His image. Your scars, your hurts, your fears, your insecurities, your story has made you even more so.

I love diversity. You are beautiful. The color of your skin, the size of your nose, the shape of your chin, the curves of your body. Made up or no makeup at all. The kids you’ve had, the surgeries you’ve been through. Beautiful.

How do I know?? I know because I know Your Creator. Not because your husband told you today, not because you got flowers last week, not because you have 3000 friends on Facebook. Because, Jesus Christ died for you.

We were His last physical creation. After God created woman, He took a rest. I imagine a cowboy throwing up his hands after roping a calf. Done! This is my most beautiful! Phew!

So, celebrate your beauty. Know that you ARE beauty, you don’t just have beauty. Smile, and know that He is with you. That He loves you. That He made you. So how could you not be? So smile and say Jesus loves meeee! <click>

Just Like Me…

friends

I spent last weekend with a group of friends who also happen to be mommies…..just like me. We have 13 kids between the six of us, and somehow we all managed to get a weekend away! It was bliss. We got to share freely without needing to kid censor our conversations. We also had the privilege of completing our sentences. Needless to say, there was lots of head nodding going on. It’s so refreshing to have friends you can be real with.

We thoroughly enjoyed two fancy dinners, sipped hot coffee in the morning, relaxed, and even closed our eyes by the pool. We talked about dating, marriage, pregnancy, labor, and sex. The stuff we all deal with and don’t normally have the chance or courage to bounce off others in a transparent way. The stuff that reminds us how much we are alike deep down in our souls. The way God created us. To love, endure, persist, relate, and connect.

Our time together also reminded me how much we all crave a closeness to our Creator. The One who made us this way. The One who knows us best. Even better than we know each other or ourselves, He knows us. I imagined Him looking down and smiling at all of us as we laughed and enjoyed our time away. All the while, He protected our children. The same children He so graciously gave to each of us. The same children that teach us more than we have ever known about love. The same children who our hearts ache for on our way home. The same children that we are sending to school next week with bittersweet feelings. The same children who have humbled us and helped us appreciate things (like a weekend away and girlfriends) more than ever before.

I have no doubt this weekend recharged us as mommies, friends, women. The more time you spend with someone who is different than you, the more you realize how very little different they are. We all want to be the best wives, moms, friends, and daughters we can be. We aren’t perfect, so to have friends that can say “I see your issue, and I raise you mine” is priceless. Let’s continue to be real and love each other through them….just like Jesus does.

Value of Friendship

friendship

I was asked to speak at a women’s event at church last night by my friend, Sheila. I thought I’d share on my blog as well. Good friends are priceless.

I’m honored to speak about friendships…Especially, friendships among women. What a treasure they are. I absolutely love it when women choose to relate rather than compete. It inspires and refreshes me. I have a true passion for women’s hearts and it burdens me to witness criticism and competition among women. We tend to instinctively compete and compare when it comes to motherhood, appearance, finances, careers, even passions. Just life. It’s exhausting. Personally, I think this desire to compete is driven by a deep desire to know we are loved and reminded that we are lovely. The fact of the matter remains that we are all in this together. Woman to woman. Friend to friend.

We have the power to choose whether we will help each other or hurt each other. Whether we will encourage or criticize. Whether we will uplift or press down. It saddens me to see how often the latter is chosen. Let’s do what we can to change that.

We have a very real enemy and he wants us to step on each other to get ahead, to be seen, to be heard. We have a Savior who wants us to help each other through this hard life. His way is seeing, relating, empathizing, listening to, praying for, and speaking the truth to in love. These are the ways we can truly help each other through our struggles. Clearly, it’s our choice as to whose way we pick when it comes to treating each other. We can step on each other or we can love each other.

In John 16:33, Jesus says In this world you WILL have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.

There are no ifs, ands, or buts; we WILL have troubles in this life. Being a true friend will not only make a positive difference in the lives of our friends, but also in our own. God designed relationships this way. Being a friend is being the hands and feet of Jesus to a fellow daughter of God. We all have value. I know this, because we are all valuable to Him. He died for each one of us. His death proves just how much we are worth to Him. Therefore, we should love each other. Relating instead of competing is one of the very BEST ways we can show Christ’s love to each other as women.

We are born into this world hungry for love. I know I was.

I speak from the experience of a daughter who craved her daddy’s approval more than anything else. I still crave his approval, I’m 37.

I speak from the experience of a child of divorce and all the difficulties associated with it. I was in the 8th grade and everything changed. It’s still hard today.

I speak from the experience of a girl who was in her twenties and still hungry for love. I met someone who said he loved me and I believed him. Looking back, he tolerated me. I thought it was enough. I didn’t know any different. So, I fell in love, got married, had 2 daughters and he left me 10 years in…..and never looked back. I felt abandoned, alone, unlovable and hungrier for love than ever….and that’s when Jesus touched me. Literally. His presence enveloped me in my weakest, saddest, darkest moment. I’ve been pursuing His presence ever since.

I speak from the experience of a working mom, a single mom, a devoted mom, a tired mom. A mom that wants to raise my daughters the very best I can. A mom who wants to live by example so badly and pour the love of Jesus into them daily so that they never feel unlovable like I did. A mom who feels like I fall short all too often. A mom thankful for God’s grace…..everyday.

I can only speak for myself, but I’ll bet some of you can relate.

I grew up feeling like more of a burden than a blessing. God made me feel special. The enemy did his best to make me feel unlovable and unwanted. But, the healing touch of Jesus and the consistent loving hearts of my friends have saved me, more than once, and they continue to….Praise God!

I still have a deep desire to be married and to have the complete family unit, just as God desires and blesses. My friends know this and they want the best for me, just like Jesus does. They remind me of my value when the loneliness and despair sets in. And, they do. My friends remind me that I’m a daughter of the Most High King and He is protecting me while WE wait for a Godly man who views me the same way.

My friends remind me of how much I am loved, past, present, and future when I forget. They inspire me and they lift me up. They value me and that feels wonderful. Looking back I can see where certain people were placed in my life like pawns to encourage and pray for me and my girls. I am forever grateful. And it makes me want to be a true friend to them in return and others in desperate need….as I was.

We make friends during different seasons in our lives….elementary school, high school, college, neighbors, co-workers, church, friends with young children, friends with high school kids, even empty nester friends. Different friends come with different seasons in our lives. Some turn into lifers and some flow in and out of our lives as we go our separate ways. That’s all normal. That’s just life.

One of my deepest desires for my daughters is that they make and keep friendships that point them to Jesus. That in each season of their lives, God will place pawns that point directly to Him. That they will desire these friendships and keep them close to their hearts. That they will be the kind of friend who loves, relates, comforts, and reminds others of Jesus. Let’s all be those kinds of friends…

I have been blessed to make these kinds of friends. If there’s one thing we do when we’re together it’s relate. We talk dating, marriage, motherhood, work/life balance, seeking a deeper personal relationship with God, finding a few spare moments of quiet time, lack of sleep, health issues, mood issues, whatever the struggle…we relate and love each other through it. These women are some of my truest treasures. My personal prayer warriors. They inspire me, cheer me on, pick me up, and love me just as I am. Who does that sound like? It sounds like Jesus to me. He loves us exactly as we are, and too much to leave us there. He carries us.

Proverbs 18:24 in a few different versions –

The Message – Friends come and go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.

NIV – One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

NLT – There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

These verses are powerful. Friends are family that we get to choose.

To have and be a friend that sticks, loves, accepts, prays, and perseveres is nothing short of a gift from God. Cherish your girlfriends. Our best friends know how busy we are. They don’t demand our time. They make an effort to be in our lives, but they also cut us slack when it’s needed. Because…they KNOW how busy we are. Our best friends know this because they relate. And like a warm cup of hot chocolate in front of the fire place on a cold and drizzly day, their friendships comfort us. We know they love us.

Can we humble ourselves and relate to each other? Can we hug and listen to another tired mom? Can we text a random Bible verse to someone that comes to mind? Can we pray for each other? Can we vent? Can we laugh our worries away? Can we just relate? I’d rather relate with you than compete with you any day…I’m already tired. Let’s just love each other instead. Because, that’s what friends do.

Once again, I’d like to thank Sheila for planning this event and asking me to speak and share “whatever is on my heart”. I started writing in a blog last year. I love to write and I have shared quite a bit of my heart in it, but I’ve never spoken publicly before.

Sheila knows my heart, she is a true friend. We met a couple years ago, right after I moved back to Burleson after my divorce. We both wanted to start a Women’s Bible Study group here at the Burleson church. Our pastor said we both called to inquire about starting a Beth Moore study one day apart. He told us we should meet and do it together. We met at Starbucks and the rest is history. God is good. I know He brought us together. She has become one of my dearest friends.

I look around this room and I see precious women with precious hearts. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about women on my journey, it’s that regardless of our relationship status, we are all hungry for love. We can’t expect that hunger to be filled by our moms, dads, husbands, kids, or even our best friends. They can all contribute, and they should. But, God is our only source of unfailing perfect love. Our friends and families may have or will let us down. We aren’t perfect and we shouldn’t expect them to be either. Only God is perfect. Let’s keep pointing each other to Him, after all that’s the most loving thing we can do for each other.