Reframing Beauty – Part 1

The health and beauty industry are two in the same. They have both realized that there is a HUGE draw to perfection, and they hold the secret, or so we’re told. The next best diet, newest face cream, pills, exercise routine, you name it. They convey the message that, without possessing these things, you’ll never meet the standard. The perfectly touched up models are used as our bait, and more times than not, we take it. You know what is missing in the picture? Your true value. They don’t know you like Christ does. They don’t have a high regard for your heart and soul like Christ does. They don’t see your worth without all of the products like Christ does! They make diet pills, not people. If I were to weigh the difference between the process of the two, I’d say that creating people uniquely different takes the cake! Watch this:

Genesis 2:21-23 NIV

So the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. 

You weren’t built in a factory and injected with different genes and personality. God doesn’t take His job in creating each of us lightly and how we treat His intricacy shouldn’t be taken lightly either. 

My point is not that investing in your health and adorning yourself is something that we should cease doing. However, my point is that if our heart doesn’t line up with our Maker’s about who we are created to be, if we’re placing more value in lipstick or pounds lost, spending more time crying as we look in the mirror than spending time in HIS word, we will always crave something new. Our thirst will never be quenched by industries designed to keep you thirsty. 

I recently experienced a kind of freedom that I was unaware of until my husband pointed it out. We went to dinner with friends and I wore the FIRST outfit I tried on without over analyzing it. We simply left and enjoyed the evening. That may not sound like a big deal to some. But to me, that’s a huge deal! I used to be the woman who would try on everything in her closet, hate it all, try it all on AGAIN, then break out into tears before we could go anywhere. Sounds exhausting, because it was! For myself AND my husband. It never set a positive tone for the event. 

I realized that it wasn’t a matter of how physically fit I was or wasn’t at the time, it was a condition of my heart. I wasn’t loving myself. I was living in a toxic relationship with MYSELF. A form of my self-hatred and pity appeared in piles of clothes on the floor. And I thought this was normal! It’s not! It doesn’t have to be your normal! 

I’m going to show you how digging deeper into my relationship with Christ helped me realize that my worth was greater than I realized! My constant prayer that I speak over myself is this:

“Lord, thank You for the purpose that You placed within me. Thank You for sowing seeds of self-worth within my heart. I receive Your truth about who You say I am. Thank You for making me whole, lacking nothing. Thank You for showing me Your reality and making it mine too.”

If you’ll notice something, I’m speaking truth and healing and thanking God for those things even as I work toward those things. Speaking life and provision over my shortcomings and welcoming a heart that is accepting of healing. If you struggle with leaving piles in your home, check your heart.

You can invest in your health and beauty regimen without a longing to be someone else.

You know how I know? Because God placed a huge value in every detail of your being. All we have to do is own it. No overthinking, just own it. With that comes peace from the inside that translates to the outside.

Proverbs 3:15-18 NIV

She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. 

That’s worth! Worth that is already inside of you simply by being the daughter of The King! Walk in that truth every single day, friends!

We’d like to thank Bonnie Kate Olson for writing this post!

A Daughter’s Heart

Editor’s Note: We truly are surrounded by a host of women who are living lives of faith. What’s even more amazing is that we are surrounded by Christ himself who is cheering us on to victory. Our stories are as different as the characters in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11, yet each one of us is running a race that requires faith. This semester women have read Hebrews 12:1-2 and shared what God placed on their heart. We are cheering you on in your journey of faith in Christ!

We’ve all heard of a Mother’s heart, how about a daughter’s heart for her mother? When my dad died in January 1999, little did I know that my life was going to take a drastic change of course. I was single and in my 5th year of teaching. Sure I had dreams for my life, but my heart knew that being my mom’s only child, that my priorities were going to have to change. I was a daughter, teacher and now caregiver. It’s a season of life that requires grace and strength that can only come directly from God.

God designed parent-child relationships to be among the most vital of all human relationships. 1 Timothy 5:3-4 says “ Support widows who are genuinely in need. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn to practice godliness toward their own family first and repay their parents for this pleases God.” We also find in John 19 that Jesus provided for his mother at His death. Jesus’ example reminds us that honoring our parents isn’t a reward for how well they parented us. Care for your parents is a reflection of what we believe about the gospel.

Caring for a parent, particularly later in years, is difficult, grueling and sometimes overwhelming. You become nurse, case worker, chauffeur, meal planner and psychologist. My mom just turned 90. Sometimes she sees herself as a burden, but despite the challenges, I see her as a blessing. Family is a place to practice giving and accepting grace.

It’s easy to weigh yourself down with all the responsibilities life brings on a daily basis. So, what do you do when things become overwhelming?

Look beyond the challenges to the God who cares for you. You can experience joy even in the middle of tough situations.

It’s ok to admit that you have limited time and energy, God promises to give you the strength you need for each day. Remember to rely on His power to work through you instead of your own efforts. (Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.)

Trust God to help you to do what you can’t do on your own and leave it in His hands.

Lastly, recognize when you need breaks or need help. Be willing to ask others for assistance. He not only surrounds us with His presence but with the presence of others.

The greatest reward is that as you honor aging parents, you also deepen your personal relationship with Christ along the way.

We wold like to thank Kathy Jones for writing this post.

You Have to Taste to See

Six months ago we brought our daughter Sadie home from China. For almost three years of her life she lived there. When we first got home so much was new to her. Her world was now turned upside down.  Sounds of a totally different language bombarded her.  Strange faces and people surrounded her.  The smells of a new environment, the clothes on her back…literally nothing in her life was the same as it had been just two weeks before.

Her little heart and mind didn’t know it yet, but there was so much good in store for her here in the U.S. and in our home. Among all of the scary and overwhelming “newness”, was a life filled with love, provision, safety, prosperity, and joy.

One of the big differences between here and China is obviously the food. For most of her life she had only eaten rice, breads, and some fruit. Once home, we would put something new in front of her and say, “It’s good; try it.”

Every single time she would protest.  Every….Single….Time.

She would push her bowl away, turn her head to the side and sit there. After a few minutes of sitting there, she would take a bite. That’s all it took, one bite, and then she would devour the entire portion.

Until then next time, then she would go through this exact routine again.

During this time God gently reminded me that at times I have been the same way.

Often times, God had laid His plan out before me, but I had turned my head and went my own way. God had given me opportunities to be His hands and feet, but I had pushed the opportunities away. There had been times His voice had called me to something bigger and deeper, but I chose to sit there in protest.

In Psalm 34:4-8 His word says,

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lordheard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.The angel of the Lordencamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

Those are some pretty spectacular benefits promised in those verses. I say, “Sign me up!”

It wasn’t until I surrendered my will, and began to live my life for Him solely, that I began to understand just how GOOD He is. When I was totally dependent on God’s provision, that’s when I witnessed His miracles.

You see, we can know a lot about God. We can read about Him. We can talk about Him. We can love Him. But until we have tasted what He wants for us, we cannot fully understand His goodness. Just like Sadie, it wasn’t easy for me to take that first bite. God often leads us beyond what we are capable of in our own flesh. He calls us to try new and brave things. And that is scary! But it is when we give up our control and let God lead that we live a life of fullness.

If you don’t ever taste, you will never know how good something might be.

Don’t sit at the table and turn your nose up at what is before you. Let go of control and trust that God is good.

Just taste, and you will see!

We would like to thank Robin Sanders for writing this post!

Freedom

Freedom. It’s a word packed with emotion. This time of year, the word may conjure up images of waving flags, “rockets red glare,” and military heroes. We hear it used and mis-used on the nightly news with regard to human rights and civil & political issues. In the spiritual context, we Christians have profound freedom from the power of sin and death through the sacrificial death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus. Those are amazing, beautiful freedoms. But can I be honest about a freedom that I’m struggling with?

You see, I’m entering a new season of life. My oldest daughter recently graduated from college, got her first “big-girl job,” moved to Houston and is beginning her dream-career as an interior design professional. Isn’t that wonderful? And my youngest daughter just finished up a successful high school career with lots of friends, great grades and athletic awards. She has even received some nice scholarships and will move into the college dorm in the fall. Perfect, right? So, if I am such a blessed woman whose prayers for my children are coming true right before my eyes…why am I choking back tears as I write this?

To be honest, I’m afraid of the “freedom” that will replace the countless hours of busy-ness I’ve invested in my girls. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a tired momma. The 22 years of laundry, homework, practices, games, concerts, awards assemblies…as joy-filled as they were, have taken their toll. More time to devote to my marriage, my home, my work, and yes, to ME will be nice. But this new-found “freedom” will have its pain and its challenges.

Thankfully, I serve a gracious God who offers “freedoms” to help me through this new season:

  • Hebrews 4:16 says I have the freedom to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, knowing I’ll find mercy and grace to help with my uncertainties and even my loneliness.
  • Galatians 5:13 reminds me that I am to use my God-given freedom to serve others humbly in love. I’ve been diligent to remind my daughters that God has a purpose and plan for each of their lives; maybe I should be reminding myself of that same truth.
  • Finally, on those days when I completely blow it and melt into self-pity because my chicks have left the nest and I miss them terribly, He gently reminds me that I have freedom from condemnation because I belong to Him (Romans 8:1).

    Wherever you find yourself today, I pray that you take full advantage of the freedom you have to approach your loving Father. Let Him walk you through the changes in your life and watch as He makes each season beautiful.

 

We would like to thank Lea Stukey for this post!

Seeking Truth in Your Weakness

Editor’s Note: This semester we’ve focused on Titus 2 and the wisdom God’s word offers us in every season of life. Our prayer is that you will be encouraged by the posts to connect with God where you are now and be obedient to His voice.

It’s that time of year again: when everything that can happen to mess up my plans and screw up everything I thought I knew does happen. Almost as if I was getting a little too cocky, a little too confident, all the plates I was holding up fell and smashed into a million pieces. You know, the time when you throw up your hands and say, “Well, it can’t get any worse”? And yet somehow the world figures out a way to make it worse? That was me. Even though I’ve definitely, completely grown up now that I’ve gone off to school and can totally do everything on my own, my first thought was that I needed to talk to my mom.

I grew up with a mother who is fiercely devoted to whatever she does. She is stubborn, black-and-white, and conversely, one of the most sensitive and discerning people I have ever had the pleasure to be around. She’s also my best friend in the entire world. If there’s one thing I have learned after leaving for college last fall, it’s exactly how much I don’t know, and exactly how much she does. She sticks in her spot and knows what is right. As I was reading through Titus 2 this week, I latched onto that image immediately as one of my mother: wise, pure, honoring, submissive. (Also, a huge dork. It must be genetic.)

Recently, I have been really lucky to have a boyfriend that was my person, my best friend. We liked all the same things, shared the same interests in ministry, in travel, in books and poetry. He was the guy that made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt, who listened when I needed it, and made me look at the world a little differently. And last week, after a hard night of prayer and really dramatic arguments with the Lord (you know, the unbending Master of All Things?) I realized I had to end our relationship.

Friends, I fought that realization violently. And when I finally made myself confront him and confessed where I realized our issues were, he came back a day later and gave me all the reasons to stay together. I felt like a deer cornered by my own emotions, staring at that bright light, unable to move because if I’m honest…

I really didn’t want to.

Meeting my parents for lunch that weekend meant that I had to tell them everything, because I knew that I couldn’t trust my own decision-making. They gave little advice, asked few questions. And then my mom looked me directly in the eyes and said, “I know you’ll make the right decision.” With those words, I got a glimpse of what my mother has demonstrated her entire life: that she seeks the truth, in spite of her weaknesses.

So, I obeyed the Lord even as it cut me open. 2 Corinthians 4 says it better than I can: that we are “afflicted in every way, but not crushed… so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

Lean on His life, friends, and those shattered plates will be put back together.

Leah Jarvis from our Amarillo campus contributed this post.

Heart of a Mother

The heart of a mother is one that, for some, is hard to explain and even talk about.  When I think of how to explain those words, I immediately get a picture of my own mom.  Growing up I felt very safe and secure. Both parents were and still are strong Christians. My brothers and I were loved and disciplined in a Biblical way and really never questioned our upbringing. It was good. My mother kept the home fires burning.  She did mom things: cooking, cleaning, carpooling, attending sports events, and church functions. She was a fantastic model for me. It wasn’t until I faced challenges of trying to become a mother myself that I began to realize there was more to a mother’s heart than meets the eye.

 

At the tender age of 38 I thought I was ready to attempt this “mom” thing. Little did I know that the road it would take me down would be one of great heartache. My journey to motherhood began with a miscarriage. A few months later, I gave birth to  a little girl only to be with her for an hour before she took an early flight from this earth and said goodbye. Later I carried a child for only 28 weeks and had to say goodbye yet again. Definitely not the journey I had pictured. My faith was challenged, but it kept me from spiraling into despair, and yet my heart still had to grieve the loss.  God never left; He just had a divine calling on my life called adoption. On June 14, 2006, a 7-pound, 14-ounce big blue-eyed little girl was laid in my arms! What else could I say, but, “WOW!” The heart of a mother began to swell within me.

koricovington

 

That little girl is now 11 years old.  Time flies! As I examine my road as a mother, I have begun to understand what was going on behind the scenes of things my mother would do. It’s all beginning to make sense. I’m blown away by how the heart of a mother reflects, in many ways, the heart of God.  We read about His heart for us in His word.  He instructs us how to live, then commands us to instruct our children. He protects us and in the same way, instills in us the heart-felt need to protect our “littles”. Psalm 18 is a beautiful picture of how He fights for us. So we also are not afraid to fight on behalf of those in our care.

 

My mom-heart gets foggy at times on what’s a true reflection of His heart. Actions that seem unimportant to me speak volumes of love to my child: a dorky valentine card, conversational candy hearts, a miniature box of chocolates, things that are no big deal to me are huge love actions in my house right now. These are opportunities to reflect His love in ways that my child can understand.

 

I love that the mom-heart He placed in each of us reflects His heart. What else can we say but “WOW!”

Kori Covington wrote this post. To learn more about her, please follow this link.