Category Archives: beautiful

Uniquely the Same

Uniquely The Same

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We made these necklaces at the recent women’s retreat I was blessed to be a part of.  I wish I had taken a picture of all of them, because they highlighted a wonderful truth.

Each lady used the same material to make the necklace and we got to choose our colors.  Every single woman chose different colors, thus every single necklace was the same…but different.

While walking around the room looking at the beautiful, simple pieces we created the common thing about them was the cross and the beads in the middle which signified to me that we’re all very different…but we’re all very much the same.  We may prefer different colors, clothes, food, etc., but the part that counts is what’s in the center – our hearts.  Although we’ve had different experiences with different things in and on our heart, the unifying mark (for Christians) is the cross – Jesus. God sees Jesus in us and although He “handles” us differently, we’re all the same to Him which gives me great comfort.

Celebrate your uniqueness and the commonality we share in Christ.

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He Can Handle It

Their eyes meet from across the room.  She tries to talk herself out of being attracted to him; he thinks she’s beautiful.  It seems like every place she goes, he’s there. Finally he catches her in a moment with no one around and he hones in to speak to her, one on one. He’s totally enchanted with her and she, him.  They arrange a meeting and then another.  After being with her for a while, although he’s sure he loves her, he starts to notice the deep wounds she carries.  The more he’s with her, the more prominent the wounds become.

She doesn’t show them to everyone, but she thought she could trust him.  Why else would there be such chemistry and attraction between them if she wasn’t safe to show him who she really is, what has happened to her? Surely she’s safe with him. She wasn’t. She was wrong. Eventually she finds that he, too, once her man of promise, has abandoned her.

Nothing is more beautiful than being loved by someone not because of all you’ve been through and who you really are…but in spite of it.  They come to know even the ugliest you and to your surprise, love you any way. That’s what real love does.  Too often though for one reason or another – good reasons and bad – we find we’re too heavy a package that people drop too easily. We find people can’t handle our reality – the real us.  They like us, they love us, they hate us.  No matter how hard we try to “be good”, be what the other one wants and needs, it’s never enough.

All of us carry wounds others have no idea about until we let them close enough to see.  When we’re exposed, they may decide they can’t handle it and they sometimes become distant.  Love is an overused and abused word used often with good intentions but few results.  Some have heard that word so many times (chimed in with other well-intended promises of faithfulness and love) we don’t want to take the chance on hearing it again.

We can totally expose ourselves to Jesus.  We may as well, he knows it’s all there anyway.  He can handle it.  He’ll never walk away no matter what has to be done to heal the wounds…ALL of them.  He’s perfect love, and human love can only be successful through Him (I believe).  He’ll never be intimidated and reject us because of anything we’ve been through, done or are going through.  We’ll never be too much, too wounded, too lost or too far gone for Him.  He can handle it.  As a matter of fact, what’s hurt us the most and left the ugliest scar on us, He died for.  He came specifically so we could be one with Him, expose ourselves completely to Him and let Him heal us.  He can even make the scars more beautiful.  He changes them from something we seek to cover to things of beauty we long to expose to glorify Him.

Whatever’s going on with you, He can handle it.  Whatever you’ve done, He can handle it.  He died so He could make you whole.  You, beloved, can trust Him.  Will you?

Matthew 11:28:  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  (NASB)

Just Like Yesterday

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Yesterday was a wonderful day.  The power company was doing some work on our street and we would have no electricity for several hours.  Since I work at home and can’t work without internet and computer, I decided to get a couple of things done and because it was Love Your Pet Day, I had a couple of things in mind for Sampson, my precious pup. We headed out and delivered some glassware I had promised for a display then we were free to play.  It was beautiful so we spent a lot of time outside. There are very few opportunities in my busy life to play without time restraints so I took advantage of it.

I loved yesterday.  I could wish that every day was like that.

This morning, we woke up to clouds and a little bit of rain.  My first inkling was to complain and feel disappointed but instead, I thanked God again for the day we enjoyed yesterday and decided this was going to be a great day too!

While taking Matt to work, I caught a glimpse of the sunrise.  It was still raining, mind you, still looking yucky but it was like He burst through the clouds as if to say, “HEY!  I’m still here.  I’m still God in the rain and sunshine, and I’m with you regardless.  Chin up little girl!”

There you go.  God’s still God in the best of times and the worst of times; any kind of weather and ever-present in whatever we must weather.  That makes the whatever-comes-our-way good, or for the good, if we keep our eyes on Him.

It’s so easy to complain, be dissatisfied and unsettled if we base our mood and our outlook on all that’s around us.  This is another stellar day God’s given us, and with Him it’s just as wonderful and blessed, filled with grace, mercy and Him as any yesterday we’ve had.  Let’s live like we believe that.

Psalm 118:24

It’s Never Going to Happen

We’re in the midst of our first snow of the season.  Sampson couldn’t wait to walk and play in it so I walked him down the hill this morning to let him run in the woods.

I went to a nearby shelter and was reading my devotionals as it’s still snowing and I was trying to stay as dry as possible.  I got immersed in what I was reading. Usually when we walk I try to stay where I can at least hear him running in the woods but this morning I didn’t. When I came to myself I called him.  Nothing.  I listened for him.  Nothing.  I started to walk down to where I thought he was, calling him. I looked up the hill toward our house and he was running down the hill!  That’s never happened before.  He thought I had left him!  He was whimpering and ran to me happy to see me.

Sometimes we feel like that, don’t we?  While we’re running, working, playing, immersed in our lives we sometimes feel God’s left us because He’s quiet.  There are times when we may feel we’re utterly alone.

I’d never leave my precious pup.  I love him.  Sometimes I let him go and do his thing but I’m always close by waiting for him to come back to me.

Our Father does the same.  He awaits the invitation to join us but during the times there’s no invitation from us, rest assured.  He’s always nearby.  He’s as close as a whisper no matter what, no matter where.  Jesus came to earth donning flesh to assure we’d never be alone.  He’s in us, beside us, in front of us, over us and in us.

Sampson was sure happy to see me and hasn’t left my side since.  I’m praying we stay that close to the Father today.  As unstable and unsure as the world is, we never have to be unsure of Him, His presence and His love.  Leave us?  It’s never going to happen.

Genesis 28:15  “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Just as Ugly as Ever

I took Sampson walking this morning. He was chasing squirrels like he always does. We got to a tree and this little tiny squirrel was right at the base of it. When he saw Sampson he started climbing up. Long story short he fell and Samson got him and started shaking the squirrel violently.  Sampson is a gentle giant and doesn’t have any aggressive or mean tendencies. However, when he had that squirrel in his mouth, he reverted back to a dog’s natural instincts and when he did, I reverted back to mine.

I enjoy watching him run squirrels and everyone else does too.  People come to the park just to watch Sampson.  He’s an older dog so I think he’ll just run them up trees so no harm is done. Not today.  When he had that squirrel shaking it for the kill, I freaked.  It wasn’t pretty.

Sampson is a rescue. We’ve had him for 4 years and when we got him, I could walk toward him with my phone in my hand and he would put his tail between his legs and run.  He was afraid of everything, even loud noises and loud voices. Obviously, he had been abused by hands he thought he could trust.  I’ve made a conscious effort not to even talk loud when he’s close because it visibly upsets him.  The first year we had him, we purposely didn’t walk toward him with anything in our hands because he was so scared.  I have never laid my hands on him for punishment but when he grabbed that squirrel I smacked him on his tail and I screamed at him.

It was only when he let go of the squirrel that I realized what I was doing.  When I snapped out of the heat of the moment, I felt terrible.  Sampson sat and looked at me with a look I’d hadn’t seen from him before.  My heart was absolutely broken.  I was so disgusted with myself and the possibility that maybe I’d undone the trust and safety it took so long to build with my companion.

This, obviously, wasn’t the first time I reverted back to my old nature and I’m sure it won’t be the last but there was something different about this morning. I saw how quickly – based on circumstances – the human flesh can revert back to what it so desperately wants to be free of – that ugly, vile “sin nature”.  We all have it and as I saw this morning, no matter how loving and “good” we want to be, our “flesh nature” will rule the moment if we act on feelings and/or circumstances.  We’re capable of anything at any given moment.  Those of us who say “I’d never…” are the most vulnerable. I didn’t want to scream at my dog. I certainly didn’t want to smack him but I did. I’d promised him and me I’d never do anything to make him fear me.  This morning I did exactly what I said I’d never do.  What I never intended to do became instinctual in that circumstance.

One second I was praising and listening to my music enjoying a beautiful sunrise and happy in the Lord and the next minute I was a monster. Just goes to show you that at any given second I can be just as ugly as I ever was, doing what I never intended to do. Never ever, ever think you ‘would never’ do something because all of us when left to the heat of the moment in a given circumstance will find we’re capable of anything.

I’ve spent years with the Lord. I know he’s changed me from the inside out. I know I’m not who I used to be but this morning I learned I can act just like I used to, given the right circumstances.

I’ve repented, asking God to forgive me as well as Sampson. He seems to not be troubled because after the incident he went after another squirrel.

I don’t like myself very much right now. I’ve seen in a very short span of time how I can be just as ugly as I ever was. Instincts (and our culture) encourage us to act based on how you feel. That’s the very thing the Lord is teaching us to get out of.  He’s teaching us to react based on what He says in ways (actions, words, thoughts) pleasing to Him and not how we’ve always done it. I thought I had mastered that a little better; this morning proved I’m capable of being just as ugly as I ever was and when left to my emotions and reacting out of fear, I’ll be that way again.

Thank you for the reminder Lord, as humiliating and ugly as it was.  I pray to keep this flesh controlled regardless of what happens. I hope you do, too.

 

1st Corinthians 10:12  “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

Philippians 3:13:  “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…”

The Other Side of Beautiful.

I live in a cabin that’s almost 240 years old. Oh if the walls could talk. Andrew Jackson has stood in my living room in front of this fireplace; it’s been said Daniel Boone walked across the front yard. There is all kinds of history on this property.

The cabin has (what I call) character and is a story within itself. Some look at it and see its faults and everything that needs to be fixed but I see the beautiful. It does need work and on the side where nobody can see the beginnings of renovation is taking place. From the visible side, it looks much better.

The side you can’t see shows what it’s been through. If you choose to see that side, you have to walk around to where you can. Nobody sees it unless they make the effort to see it.

We’re much like this historical cabin. We all have a side we don’t show (or try not to) to the world. We choose to let others see our beautiful, our socially acceptable, try-to-fit-in-and-be-good self; the everything-is-fine-and-I-love-life self. The majority only care about that side of us; few ever venture “around the house” to see the other less exposed side, the self we work so hard to hide.

If you’ve lived a few years, you’ve weathered some storms and if others look close enough, they can see it. You’ve been hurt, wounded, made some mistakes and have the scars and marks to prove it. Everyone has another side of beautiful. Everyone. Everyone has a side they don’t really want others to see. Some, though, can’t help but show it. They’re the ones we see on the streets with no place to call home, no resources and no people supporting them. We try not to look because we want to see beautiful; we want someone else to help them. Those closest to you – just like you – have a side that is less than beautiful. We all have a side we would just as soon not show.

Look at them the next time you can. LOOK at the people with you in the checkout line at the store. LOOK at them and pray for them. Ask God for opportunities to smile at them and look them in the eye and ways to help. They’re beautiful too! Others you’re exposed to have deep places and fears they don’t share with anyone. They may need a positive, encouraging word or smile to let them know they’re not alone and they are loved, ugly and all.

God loves us despite of and IN spite of our ugly. He KNOWS our other side of beautiful and has chosen to love us anyway! He wants to touch our ugly and heal us. He wants to do a major renovation in us and He will if we let him. He will even use our other side to encourage someone else if we’ll let Him.

The next time you’re seeing beautiful in others and places think about what you don’t see. Be thankful for the beautiful and pray God is allowed to touch the other side and make it beautiful too.