Contentment

In the past, when people talked about contentment, I used to get so annoyed and aggravated. Usually I would roll my eyes, paste on a smile and show insincere interest! Horrible I know, but hey, at least I’m being honest!

 

As bad as this is to admit, I’ve always equated contentment as something that is dull, uninteresting and undesirable. I want to be the girl who’s adventurous, full of life, charismatic, and joyful! Until now, I could not reconcile how being content, while maintaining the liveliness in my spirit could go hand in hand.

 

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The Lord is currently wrecking my life and my perspective on contentment. Gear up, because I’ll probably be talking about this topic for awhile on this blog!

 

I’m currently reading a book entitled, “Calm My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow and it’s a must-read!  I don’t say that often or lightly, but it is teaching me how to have accurate and Biblical contentment. It is not cheesy or repetitive; instead it is filled with deep, though-provoking wisdom and advice! Pick up a copy here – you won’t be sorry!

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After my honest introduction on my thoughts on contentment, allow me to share some thoughts I’m processing through from the first chapter!

 

What we are on the inside, what we continually think about, eventually shows in our words, actions, and even our countenances.

Allow that to sink in.

 

You are what you think about! Whether that’s the outfit you’re going to wear tomorrow, what the latest news station is discussing, or what the Lord is saying to you. What you fill your mind with, is eventually who you become!

 

I don’t know about you, but I want to be someone who’s vision is clear, because I have an eternal perspective! The word perspective means, “Looking through; seeing clearly; the capacity to view things in their true relation of relative importance.” Therefore an eternal perspective is God’s way of seeing!

 

In the book, Linda shares rules for contentment. After reading this and meditating on it for a few days, I’ve written it and put it up by my desk at work and in the front of my bible!

 

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I’ve begun to be more aware of these things in my life. Let’s just say that I have a long way to go!

 

Beloved, I’m sharing these thoughts from my heart for two reasons! First, because I want you all to know that I am not perfect! (But you already knew that!) Second, hopefully my struggles along the road of sanctification will encourage you. We are all doing this messy thing called “life” together, and we should be cheering one another on!

 

I am not there yet, but oh how I despertly want to be a woman who has a peace that is separate from my circumstances. With my eyes fixed upon eternity, I want to always rest in the fact that my tomorrow’s belong to God! When my tomorrows are nestled in God’s strong arms, then I can be free to live today!

 

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Will you join me on this journey? I am learning that contentment, true contentment is one of the greatest things I can possess. It is the farthest thing from boring! It actually frees me to live the life God intended me to live – fully alive!

 

As I share my thoughts on my struggles and victories, I encourage you to rally together and pursue contentment with me! Please let me know where you are on the journey! Let’s be the brothers and sisters we ought to one another!!

 

“Contentment is essentially a matter of accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is good and therefore it is good.”

-J.I. Packer

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Raw thoughts on loneliness !

I’ve avoided writing this post for a while, because I was scared that if I did write it, I would pack my bags and be on the next plane home within an hour.

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The first week in DC was the honeymoon phase – I was learning a new job, I went out on a date, I explored the city….then it hit me

“WOW, I just moved my entire life to this strange city. What on earth was I thinking?!”

As much as I love DC and my job, I have been more lonely than I have ever been in my entire life! That sounds a bit dramatic, but for 4 years, I was at Liberty University, where I was surrounded by thousands of people, and I had a whole community that I could call on at anytime. Whenever I wanted to, I could call up a friend and have someone to go to dinner with me, jog around campus together, come up to my room and watch a movie, or walk with me while I poured out my heart. Even when I was back home, there are 8 people in my family, so I always had someone right there for me! Whether I needed a shoulder to cry on, or someone to go get coffee with me, there has always been someone in close proximity for me!

In my new beautiful city of DC, I have yet to make a lot really solid friends. My roommates are super sweet, but they have all been here for awhile and have established community here. There have been many nights when I’ve come home, gone for a run, made dinner for myself and found things to entertain myself.

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To be honest, I think I need this season of loneliness. As much as I hate to admit it, and as much as I’ve cried to the Lord to give me friends immediately, I’m learning things that I know I could not learn any other way.

So, I’ve complied a few thoughts on things I’m currently learning through my loneliness. This is by no means extensive, but I hope that it encourages you in whatever stage of life you are in!

1) I’m learning how dependent I have been on people, and not the Lord.

As hard as it is to swallow, I’ve never realized just how much I’ve puffed myself up with pride in the past, based off of how “popular” I thought I was! It’s so easy when I’m surrounded by people to run to a person to satisfy my desire for companionship. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the body of believers, and I believe that we are designed to live in community with one another. However, I had unknowingly put people in the place of my Lord in my life. 

In the past…

  • When I’ve been sad or upset about something, I’ve gone to a friend’s shoulder to cry on and receive a hug and their sympathy instead of going to the Lord to comfort my heart!

  • When I’ve been lonely, I’ll call someone up (usually a guy friend) to come and fulfill that need in my heart to feel loved and desired instead of seeking my Great Lover to satisfy my heart and deepest desires.

  • When I’ve been excited about something, I’ve gone to friends to cheer for me and to celebrate instead of going to my Father in thankfulness and seeking to rejoice in Him and with Him!

  • When I’ve been angry, I’ve vented to any available person who would lend an ear to me for more than 5 minutes instead of working out my problems before the throne!

This season of loneliness is making me aware how dependent i was on others in the past. I had tried to place an impossible burden on them of meeting my needs and desires that only my Savior can meet.

2) I’m meditating on Scripture more than I ever have in my life!

While I could sulk and throw myself a grand old pity party (obviously I would be the only one in attendance!) and dwell on how I have no friends, I’ve chosen to fill my head with God’s truth!

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Psalm 25 has been capturing my heart’s attention, and I’ve been dwelling on the first verse. The Lord has been revealing to me how many things other than Him that I lift up my soul to, and I’m learning to lift up my soul to Him and Him only!

Beloved, I don’t know where life finds you right now. Whether you find yourself in the exact same boat, and just needed a breath of encouragement, or whether you’re surrounded by a million friends and this serves as a caution to you. Always, always, always make sure that Christ is first in your heart! It’s easier said than done.

I challenge you to seek out some alone time with the Lord to really search out your heart. There are always things that we need to hand over to our Father! Lay those down before His throne and rest in the fact that He loves you!

Godly look at body image

Let’s talk about body image!

To be honest, I’ve avoided publishing this post for awhile because it’s hard to be vulnerable about topics like this sometimes. But the Lord has taught me a lot in this area, and I know I’m not the only one that’s ever struggled with body image, so hopefully what I’ve learned will encourage you!

As a woman, I long to be beautiful – inside and out. I used to be ashamed for wanting to be beautiful, and would try to ignore those feelings – until the Lord brought me to Genesis. Eve was the first woman created, and she was completely perfect for two reasons. First, because she was created in God’s image, and therefore had intrinsic worth and value, and second because there was no sin in her yet.

Oh how gloriously beautiful she must have been! Can you just image Adam, who had been hanging out with the animals, waking up to find her – the finale of God’s creation!

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Women were originally created to be beautiful, because it says something about God’s character! Even though men and women are created equal, they have different roles, and they reflect different parts of God’s characteristics. Men reflect God’s strength and power, while women reflect God’s tenderness and beauty.

But something happened…

man sinned…

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As a result, woman’s beauty was distorted. Don’t get me wrong, women are still beautiful and created in God’s image, but now, women’s desire to be beautiful often becomes an idol and something they chase after more than the Lord.

Take a walk in your local drugstore and you’ll see aisle after aisle of products promising women that they can have…

“Flawless skin”

“Sexy hair”

“Plump lips”

“Sultry eyes”

“Alluring cheeks”

The list goes on and on.

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I’m going to be honest, I’ve struggled with insecurity. There have been times when I’ve walked into a room, and the very first thing I want to do is go hide in a corner because I feel like the plainest, most unattractive woman in the room. There have been times where I’ll compare myself physically to other women, and measure myself against an unrealistic standard.

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Recently, one of my younger sisters told me that she wasn’t happy with how she looked. I sat down with her and told her that it makes God unhappy when she says that she’s not beautiful, because she’s created in Him image, and she’s insulting Him when she complains about how she looks!

Beloved, when I stand in front of the mirror and rattle off to the Lord about how I wish He had created me with thicker hair, longer legs and higher cheek bones – I am offending my dear Savior, because I am criticizing His handiwork! He fashioned me exactly how He wanted me to be. My appearance, my personality, my story – all of it is perfectly and uniquely and lovingly designed by my Father!

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As I’ve been asking Him to give me confidence knowing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I will be praying for my fellow sisters in Christ! Please always remember…

Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart!

Enjoy the beauty that God has given you – it’s a reflection of Him!

But don’t ever get sucked into thinking that outward beauty is all there is. Character is what matters and what will last!

I am a woman resolved to seeking the Lord with all of my heart, mind and soul. While I do mess up, while I do struggle and fall, while I do need daily grace – I know to whom I belong!

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No makeup challenge!!

Recently a prayer leader on my hall suggested that we go a week without wearing makeup….

Immediately I said that sounded like a wonderful idea…until this past Monday when I was getting ready. Let me preface this by saying, I don’t usually wear a ton of makeup, but I do wear it nevertheless. As I walked out the door without a stitch of makeup on my face, I felt completely naked. It sounds silly, because it’s just makeup. But I never realized my dependance on it before. People passed me in the hallways, and all I thought was “They probably think I’m so ugly right now” I worked up the courage to tell a few people that I wasn’t wearing any makeup, and they did a double take and said that they couldn’t tell a difference.

Fasting from makeup has been such a revealing thing. I am realizing where true beauty comes from. I’ve always preached that beauty is on the inside, but I’ve relied on makeup to cover up the flaws I don’t feel comfortable with the rest of the world seeing. My acne scars and blemished aren’t the first thing I want people to notice about me, but if my flaws are seen, it is okay.

Oh how I desire to be a beautiful woman of God! When people look at me, I want them to see Christ living in me. I want my dependence to be only in the Lord; not in a beauty product. With the extra time I’ve had, I’ve devoted it to memorizing scripture. It is incredible how the Lord has been working in my heart this past week. I challenge you to take a break from makeup for a while. It might be hard for the first day or so, but after that, there is great freedom!

Here is me…sans makeup!!

Love and other things…am I beautiful?

Dearest reader, let me allow you into the heart of a woman for a moment.

 

One of the questions on every woman’s soul is, “Am I beautiful?” Each woman, whether they will admit it or not subconsciously asks this question. They ask this question of the men in their life, their friends, society, etc. Often times, when they ask this question, they will go to extremes to hear an answer that will satisfy them. I personally ask this question, while I may not ask it aloud of people, my heart searches for the answer. Why is beauty such an important topic to women? The reason that bearing beauty is so crucial to women, is because women are uniquely designed by God Himself to bear beauty. Beauty is an essential part of God and He has intricately fashioned and formed women to carry a part of Himself.

 

As a little girl, I used to wear dresses all the time and dance around with my brother pretending that he was a prince and I was a princess. My heart wanted to be clothed in beautiful, even as a young girl. One of my prayers to the Lord is that I will be able to accurately represent His beauty. While the world strives for outward beauty, I desire to exude genuine beauty. I think it is very important to make sure to take care of yourself physically, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to look as best as you can, but the moment those outward expressions of beauty begin to trump inward beauty, beloved, you no longer bear the Lord’s beauty. When you shift the focus solely upon the physical, there is no room for the Lord is show off His beauty.

 

Numerous books have been written on this topic, but I would like to personally breath into the topic of beauty. Yes, I do struggle with my appearance on occasion, there are days I wake up and think they world would be better if I placed a paper bag over my head. But for the most part, I find my beauty in the Lord! If I don’t run to Him to define what is beautiful, I find that I try to fight a loosing battle. When I am consumed with my personal beauty and going to extremes to enhance my beauty, I am not finding my identity and worth in the Lord,  instead I am shortchanging myself. I have a beloved Savior who calls me beautiful. Why on earth would I run to society or a man to tell me I’m beautiful. Honestly, I do enjoy it when I receive complements, but those all fall so short compared to the words my Lord speaks to me.

Beauty is a wonderful thing. It captivates and overwhelms. What is more wonderful than beauty, as we define it, is beauty as King Jesus defines it. He defines it in Himself. Dearest, if you are struggling with believing that you aren’t beautiful enough, press into the heart of Christ and listen to what He says about you. Soon, the worldly standards of beauty will fade and in its place will come into focus, eternal beauty. I choose to spend my time and energy on making myself beautiful for my Beloved. My Bridegroom is coming back to take me home one day and I want to exude as much beauty as possible; I want to radiate His beauty and His glory.

Will you join me?

 

 

Idols of the heart

The heart is such a touchy subject. Many of us run around, trying to find someone to bare our hearts too, someone who will care about the content of our hearts, something to satisfy our deepest longings and desires. Recently, I picked up a book by Timothy Keller entitled, “Counterfeit Gods” The premise of the book is uncovering the idols of the heart. I picked up the book because I’ve heard Tim Keller speak before, yet had never read one of his books. You know a book is going to be good when you begin underlining things in the introduction of the book. (Is it sad that this is how I judge books sometimes?)

It was challenging and hard to read, because some deep idols in my heart of hearts were exposed and laid bare. Although it was difficult, it was good to dig deep and identify the idols in my life, and then surrender them to the Lord.

To be honest, I do a very good job at pretending like I have everything together sometimes. But I’m not fooling anyone! I know that I am a wreck, and that I curl up on my bed and cry my eyes out sometimes. (More often then I’d like to admit.) While I can sometimes put up a guard over my heart, the Lord can always see straight through me, and straight into the depths of my heart. While this could be scary sometimes, it’s the most lovely, wonderful and beautiful thing in the world. The King of Creation, the Savior who died for me, the Great Lover sees me, all of me, and loves me!

I recently spent an extended period alone with the Lord, asking Him to expose the hidden idols of my heart.

“What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” –Tim Keller

My, that definition in itself is extremely convicting. I must admit, that so many areas of my heart are idolatrous because I run around, seeking things to satisfy me, when there is only One that can fulfill my deepest wants and needs. I’m not going to go into every detail concerning the idols of my heart, that’s a tad too personal for this blog, and some things need to be kept between me and the Lord. But I would like to share with you the power and destruction of what can happen when you allow an idol to grip your heart.

This idol is one that is a good thing that the Lord created and intended to be a blessing to those that receive it. I never thought that I had set this one thing up in my heart as an idol. About two years ago, the depths of my heart were truly revealed. While this hurt me more than I can explain, I realized that something else was taking my Father’s place in my heart. When the idol in my life was stripped from me, I honestly thought my heart was going to die. Well, I wasn’t dying, but I felt like it because I had made this one thing such a great idol in my life, that when I was told I couldn’t have it, and could never have it, I had to run to the Lord and allow Him to take care of my heart.

My dear reader, I am speaking from personal experience and heart ache. I beg you to search your heart before the Lord. What in your life, if taken away, would make your life unbearable? I challenge you to answer this question honestly before the Lord. Reread the definition of what an idol is, spend time with the Lord, laying your heart completely open and bare. While the process will be painful, oh how much more glorious when you can stand and declare the King of Kings truly has your heart.

“Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless til they find rest in Thee.” – St. Augustine