Monday, March 30, 2015

See Your Beauty

You are altogether beautiful my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song of Songs 4:7

This past week my youngest daughter decided to give me a Spa Day. She brushed and curled my hair, carefully applied make-up, and painted my fingers the most lovely shade of ocean blue to match the eye shadow liberally applied over my eyes. As I stood in front of my mirror to look at the finished product, I took in every smear, smudge, and wild strand of hair along with my daughter’s smiling face and thought, “I’ve never seen anything more beautiful.”


Why can I look at her attempts and see only beauty, but when I go through the same process each morning and look in the mirror I only see the shortcomings. The misplaced hair or eyeliner that doesn’t look like a Pinterest photo. The nail polish that chips and the lips that are too small, even when I try to put on lipstick. Why do I accept her finished product as beautiful and mine as messed-up, even when they’re on the same person: me.

We have such grace and mercy for those around us, don’t we? Especially our children. We see the intent behind what they do, how hard they try, and the pureness with which they do so, and it’s those qualities we value. It’s those qualities we cherish. It’s the lens through which we see the end product, and it makes it incomparably beautiful in our sight. Yet we cannot seem to apply the same lens to ourselves.

But we are God’s children, and he looks at us just like we look at our own. Every attempt of pure heart made in him. Every ounce of love we pour out. Every stumble. Every wild hair. He sees it all and to him we are all-together beautiful. He sees no flaws because we are his children. We are covered in his sacrifice and loved beyond all measure.

That is the reflection he sees.

And that is the reflection we need to look for.

Lord, we pray that you would take those things we’ve held as truths in our lives in regards to our beauty, and replace them with your own Truth. Begin to reshape our hearts and minds to see the reflection you see of us. Help us to see even our short comings as beautiful in you. May our likeness be wrapped in you and you alone. Amen.

Today stop and look at yourself in the mirror. Pay special attention to those things you normally call out as your flaws, then speak back today’s verse. Remember, in Christ there is no flaw in you. I challenge you to start believing that today.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Review and Give Away!

I'm in the middle of reading several books right now, one of which is Kristy Cambron's newest, A Sparrow In Terezin. It's the sequel to her debut, The Butterfly and the Violin, and I'm already in love:) Next Friday I'll be posting a review on Sparrow, AND Kristy will be here Monday guest posting. So, to celebrate her upcoming new release, I wanted to give away a copy of her debut, The Butterfly and the Violin OR her sequel, A Sparrow in Terezin, your choice! 

Butterfly was one of my favorite reads last year, and you can catch my review here. Then leave a comment on this post or on my Facebook post and come back next week for my review of Sparrow and to see who won!

Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Blessings & Beauty

Hey everyone! It's Wednesday. Time to focus on the simple joys in our lives. For some it'll be like a harvest spilling over, others...well, we might need to hunt and peck a little. But one thing I know is that God delights in delighting us. Sometimes in the hunting and pecking we find we have a lot more to collect than what we thought. We often times cannot change our circumstances, but we can change our thoughts. (Doesn't mean it's always easy though!) So let's start!

Blessings: (things to be thankful for, moments of happiness to note...)
1) Unexpected help on a day when my to-do list was longer than my hours to do it all in. God really does multiply our time!
2) the ability to laugh at myself
3) steamed milk with honey added...I'd forgotten the comfort of this!
4) sleeping in until 8 am and feeling rested
5) curling up with a good book and a warm cup of tea in a quiet house
6) seeing my children's creativity come out--in their own unique ways--during a project
7) snuggling in bed with my littlest

What I found beautiful this week? The number "one". I posted about it on Monday, you can read it here, and I've been thinking about it ever since. This picture is taken on my front stoop where I sit a lot in spring, summer, and fall. It's my thinking and praying spot. (In winter that spot is my closet. For real.) As I sat there I thought about the number one and my Monday post. I'm one person. I'm not eloquent or as educated as the next gal. I won't be gracing the cover of any magazines or tv screens in my foreseeable future. I don't have a huge social media following or a tribe.

But I do have the One and only thing I need...God.

And that was the point of this week. The power of one is amazing--in my life and in the lives of those around me. One kind word. One hello. One phone call. One hug. One card. One look. One invitation. Did you know some people have never been to church or heard the Gospel simply because no one has ever asked? It only takes one! Oh, please, BE that one! Because the story of Jesus' one sacrifice can radically change lives.

Remember, you are enough! In Christ you have everything you need. Courage. Talent. Beauty. Authority. Your wrinkles, age, eloquence (or lack thereof), "likes", or "follows"...none of that matters.  God knew what he was doing when he created you. He knows what he can do with your abilities AND imperfections. He only needs your willingness.

You matter.

And that is a beautiful thing:)

Monday, March 23, 2015

One and Only One

“By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:14

Numbers. In this day and age they are everywhere. Whether it’s the number on the scale, how many “likes’ or “follows” we have, the pairs of shoes we own, or the amount of gray strands on our head, numbers impact our life in a big way.

But our worth is only determined by one number: One.

One sacrifice by the one God who loved us enough to send his one and only son, Jesus, to die for our sins so that we would be made perfect in and through him.

Oh, friend, did you hear that? Perfect? We’ve spent several weeks now walking around that word. Perfect looks. Perfect body. Perfect job. Perfect family. Perfect social media following. Go ahead and add your own, but in short what we’re looking for is our worth through the perfect life. We strive for a perfection the world will notice yet in one single moment Jesus Christ delivered ultimate perfection to us. It’s not anything we deserve or anything we can obtain outside of him—nor is it anything we will see while our feet are still on this earth. Yet God sees it the moment we accept Christ into our lives as Lord and Savior. After that one decision, every lens God views us through shows us nothing short of perfectly beautiful in his sight.

And God is the only one who matters.
He is the one who created us.
The one who gives us beauty from ashes.
The one who redeems our past and makes a way for our future.
The one who wove into us our purpose.
The one who overflows us with immeasurable worth.
The only one you need. Jesus. 

Lord, today help us to forget all the numbers invading our life. Rather let us only see the impact you have on our life. Let us not weigh or measure our worth by anything other than you. Who you created us to be. How you redeemed us. How you value us. Transform the way we see numbers, Lord, until the only thing we see is you. 

Today before you log onto social media, step on a scale, or look in the mirror, hold up your pointer finger. Look at it. Not only does it represent the number one, but it’s pointing up to the only One who matters. Every time you’re tempted to believe the other numbers in front of you, hold that finger up and believe the One it’s pointing to.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blessings & Beauty

I call this day Blessings & Beauty over here but it's really a day to stop and just be thankful. Take a deep breath and notice those things around me that too often I take for granted. We get so caught up in just doing life, sometimes we blow right past those moments God gives us to simply savor. My goal is to notice on thing each day and write it here's my list from the last week.

1) a fresh breeze that was warm enough to enjoy
2) watching my girls curled up reading a book and smiling
3) hearing my husband teach my son so I can have a break
4) grace extended from my children in the mistakes I make as a mom
5) hugs from my kids that nearly choke me...pray they always hold on tight
6) dirty bare feet on my children on the first day warm enough to run outside without shoes
7) a free coffee on a night I really needed it

I've noticed this thing happening lately that at first I struggled with. In fact, it's been a struggle for the better part of a year...gray hair. Nothing has made me feel older. Oh, a few things have come close, but this is the one that puts me over the edge. Not even going to lie, I make sure to cover it:) Easy to do right now as it's only a few strands, but they are still there. Still, as I've challenged myself this year (and let's be honest, it's really a challenge from God) to measure my worth through him and him alone, even the site of those gray hairs is changing.

They are beautiful. Each one earned. Each one a reminder that God has blessed me with life. And wisdom. I'm aging, no denying it. No denying either that as we age with God it is a beautiful thing. We are more than a number:) And I'm going to take as many numbers to my years as he wants to give!

Praying you know you are more than a number today and that your eyes are open to the blessings around you and beauty in you today!

Monday, March 16, 2015

What's That Scent You're Wearing...?

Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. Exodus 30:25
For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15

Let’s look at the verse from Exodus first. That verse came from God’s instructions to Moses on how to build the Tabernacle. That was the place where God’s presence dwelled as Israel traveled. It was a holy place full of his anointing, and only certain people who’d been anointed with that specific oil could approach this tent. The oil for anointing was fragrant. It was a special perfume only used in that specific application. A distinct and beautiful scent worn only by those covered in it.

And if Christ hadn’t sacrificed himself on the Cross, we’d still need a special anointing to approach him. Except he did sacrifice himself and then he left us his Holy Spirit. Every believer can receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit the moment we ask Christ into our lives. Here’s the best part, that anointing still comes with a fragrance unlike any other known to man.




We don’t have to carry the stink of old sin with us. God covers it with his holy perfume. Don’t you love that he is into beauty? Even when it's what we smell like to others? Gone is the waft of something unpleasant, that smell we never could wash away. With one dose of his blood over us that stench is gone forever.

We become pleasing to those around us. When we walk past they turn, catching on the breeze the scent of something attractive. Which is what that second verse is talking about. We are a fragrance of God to those next to us. An aroma that draws others to him.

Oh, may we be one that is bathed in him! Nothing else.

Lord, please let us wear your scent today. Help us to remember your beautiful fragrance is free and all-consuming. Allow us to not only inhale it today, but to bath in it so those around us will be enticed toward you.

Today I challenge you to set aside the scent of old sins you may still be carrying and to roll in the aroma of God. If you wear a scent—lotion or perfume—as you spray it on let it be a physical reminder of all God has removed from you and his sweet love for you. Allow that scent to become a daily reminder of his fragrance in your life.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bookshelf Friday - Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

This book has been out since spring last have I not read it? Especially when I love Karen Witemeyer's book! But this past weekend I had time to curl up and read, so I purchased it and dove in. Here's the blurb, and we'll chat on the other side.

Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?

As usual with Karen's books, I was immediately drawn in. I loved Nicole and her strong personality, and I loved how this played into the lessons she needed to learn. To watch it dawn on her where her worth came see her worth for herself, that was a beautiful journey. And funny. And adventurous. And romance--great romance!

Darius was a perfect leading man for Nicole too. The truth-giving conversations she would have with him were spot on and his story arc was well written and believable. We knew what motivated him, and that Nicole could both stand up to Darius as well as be gentle with him made a perfect combo. In fact, at times I thought about the fairytale Beauty and the Beast while reading this novel. (sidenote: that's always been my favorite fairytale. I think it's when he gives her the library...)

All together Karen paired several elements to make this a page turner. The cast of characters were lively and endearing. The setting pulled you right in. Even the history she wove through made for an interesting layer. I loved this book, but I can't say I was surprised. I'm already watching for her new release which comes out this spring, only this time I won't wait a year to read it:)

I happily give Full Steam Ahead 5 out of 5 stars!

Also, it's time for my February Bookshelf Giveaway. If you'd like a chance to win your pick of one of these books from my bookshelf, let me know here or "like" the picture on my Facebook page:) I'll announce the winner next week!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blessings & Beauty

Happy Wednesday, friends! Time to pause and count things we are thankful for and glimpses of beauty we've seen during the week:)

1) hearing the strands of a worship song as my youngest learns it on the piano
2) the ability to homeschool my kids - even on the bad days
3) quiet
4) homemade bread warm from the oven that I didn't have to bake
5) hearing the snow melt! Yes. Melting snow makes noise.
6) safety on the roads when I'm taxi-mom all day
7) comfy furniture to sit on

Melting snow. Yes. In November it's the fresh fallen snow we all snap pictures of and fall in love with. But it's the melting icicles and muddy puddles of water that bring us glimpses of beauty. Just goes to show you, it's all how you look at things, because this, dear friends, is gorgeous!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Security in God

For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. James 1:11

Many times throughout the Bible we’re compared to flowers, often in terms of our sprouting and flourishing, but this verse brings a different picture of those blooms. Rather than bursting forth with color and growth, this flower wilts. Its beauty is destroyed. Why the change?

It’s where that flower seeks its worth—in money.

We are a generation living in a world that elevates those with monetary worth. We seek it ourselves. This world tells us there is security in a full bank account. It shows us our worth is inherent in what we possess. What we wear. The car we drive. The home we live in.

Yet all of it is temporary. You are worth no more or no less if you live in a cardboard box or in a mansion. You are no more beautiful if your clothes come from SAKS or Goodwill. Your smile no more precious if it’s covered with lipstick from MAC or ELF.

That is because we need to find our worth in the living God, not our bottom line. There is nothing we can purchase, nothing we can physically possess that will withstand the heat of this life. In the face of a scorching hot life, we will wither if we are not rooted in God deeply enough to drink in his living water.

Oh, friend, I am in no way saying money is evil. Unfortunately, our relationship with it can be when it’s not in the correct place of our lives. The things we own on this earth are not to take the place of the security we find in God. We need to hold all we possess with open hands, freely giving to those around us and always offering praise to the One who provided it. Because with one blistering day the beauty of riches will fade away. However, in God, fire only burns away the impurities and leaves us shining with the incomparable beauty he creates within us.

Lord, where I have placed my security into possessions or money, replace it with a burning love for you so when the heat of this life wraps around me I do not wither. Help me to hold all I possess with an open hand and open heart that others may see your true beauty woven through my life. Point me to those I may help, with a prayer or with deed, and allow me to do so with a cheerful heart.

I truly believe we are blessed to be a blessing. Each one of us can be a help to those around our lives. Today I challenge you to put our prayer into action. You may not be in a position to monetarily help a person or group, but a prayer, kind word, or even your time are all gifts that can be given. Let your eyes be open to those around you and then boldly step out in action today that your blooms may grow instead of wither.