Bloom

Thirteen.

That’s the number of jobs I have sent in inquiries and applications for since March.

Maybe not a terribly significant number, but of those thirteen, I have interviewed for three and things looked somewhat promising.

Only for me to be let down three times and have to start over from scratch again.

Now, I’m not one to have any desire to do a job I am not a good fit for, however at this point I just need to make money and have something to do this summer.

You start to wonder what is wrong with you, you know?

I’m in a summer of transition between schools on top of that, so perhaps ‘a little lost’ is a good way to describe where I’m at.

But after spending a week or so moping around feeling sorry for myself, not changing out of my pajamas some days, crying more than I care to admit and quite frankly being ridiculously dramatic, I have pulled myself together.

And decided this:

In every season of life there is a purpose and in every transition there is something to be discovered. In some it is a little more obvious – the season of singleness is a perfect time to not be distracted from your walk with the Lord by a relationship or to focus on self care and improvement, the college years are a time of discovering who you are and what your career and life might look like. But our lives are constantly changing, as are we.

There are times, seasons, where hard work and putting up a good fight while allowing God on your side, is required.

And there are other seasons where He has you where you are for great purpose.

Flourish there, where you have been so beautifully placed. Grow there, where you are carefully tended by the Master. Where you are is no mistake.

So, to the best of your ability, enjoy the season or transition you find yourself in right now, for soon it will change once again as another lesson to be learned comes to light.

And most importantly, bloom where you are planted.

Beautifully (Part 2)

If you read my recent post, Beautifully, you may know that I decided to go the month of February without wearing makeup. It was an interesting and difficult experience that I would like to share with you.

I have to confess, the first two weeks or so – and especially the first few days – I nearly forgot that I wasn’t using any makeup and I would pull it out and set it on the counter only then to remember that no matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t use it. In part this was because of the fact that I had become so used to going into the bathroom first thing in the morning and slathering on foundation, blinking into mascara and putting on chap-stick at the very least. There was also a part of me that truly did not want to put myself through this, and just wanted to give up and forget I had ever decided this in the first place.

But mostly, it was difficult to look in the mirror at my hyper-pigmented, scarred and blemished skin and small eyes that begged for mascara and eyeliner, and not be able to cover it up and hide the things I really didn’t like seeing in the mirror. So many times I argued with myself in the morning, coming close to slipping up and falling back into the routine I had become so used to.

But I didn’t.

I’m not writing this because I want pity – or recognition for muddling through it for that matter.

But, In blunt honesty, the entire month was hard.

Really hard.

I avoided mirrors so I wouldn’t have to look at myself. I had to keep reminding myself why I was doing what I was, but even that was unconvincing.

My most powerful lesson came after I had begun to wear makeup again.

I play piano, have for eleven years, which means I often get volunteered to play for events – especially at church. Anyway, the women’s ministry we have at my church had asked me to play for them at an event on Saturday, which meant I got to listen to the speaker they had lined up. She said something important in her lesson that I didn’t realize the power of until I was driving home after the event. It sounded a little something like this:

It doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter if you are “too thin” or “too fat”, whether you have wrinkles or scars. You are made, fearfully and wonderfully in the image of God, and YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and WORTHY despite the things you don’t like when you look in the mirror.

I’m paraphrasing a little, but this was the context of what she said, and I was blown away. It seems like women are told something like this all the time – by our parents, our friends, our significant other – you name it. How many of us actually believe it? Ha.

Yet, to doubt our own beauty and worth is to doubt that God’s creation is perfect and that he made each of us, knit us and molded us so intricately.

To not love ourselves and how we look is, frankly, an insult to God’s handiwork.So why is it so easy to pick and choose what we like and dislike about ourselves, and beat ourselves up over those things we have deemed unworthy and not beautiful?

I wish that I had a good answer for this, but I truthfully don’t. It’s hard to love the things we find so easy to hate. There are many days that I get so worked up in comparing myself to others and picking apart my flaws that I bring myself to tears. .

I see so many others feeling the same, and it breaks my heart.

So, if you are reading this, I challenge you. 

Don’t allow makeup to enslave you like I did, like so many other women have.

Freely, unashamedly look into mirrors and tell yourself how beautiful you are – even if you don’t feel that way – until you believe it. God made every piece of you, He has numbered the hairs on your head and He loves every last inch of you. In you, He created a lovely and fearless soul and He will gently remind you day by day how much you are worth if you let Him.

I have challenged myself to do the same.

Because I can promise you that you are fearfully, wonderfully, beautifully, intricately made in the image of a perfect, glorious and loving God.

Be loved, beloved

There are, arguably, four types of people when it comes to Valentine’s Day.

One, the couples who celebrate this holiday. They’re the ones who post photos of flowers or chocolates from their significant other, or a photo of the both of them. They might have a romantic meal, or give a card to one another. They at least try.

You know what I mean.

Next are the rest of the couples, who don’t really do anything for the holiday. Maybe they have been together two long to care anymore, or they have mutually decided that ‘Valentine’s Day is stupid’ and refuse to participate.

There are also those who mourn or miss past relationships on this day, reminiscing on what could have been even if the relationship ended for good reason and often claiming that they hate this holiday.

Can’t say I blame them…

Lastly, there are those who have never celebrated what is known as Valentine’s Day because they have never had a significant other to celebrate it with. Yeah.

Maybe there are more than four, in fact I’m sure there will be people who don’t fall into these groups. But I’m sure you get what I am trying to do here, bear with me.

I count myself in the last category. 

But unlike a majority of people who find themselves as chronically single as me, I don’t dislike Valentine’s Day. As I have grown in my faith throughout the years, I have found that I can often see God and His love in ordinary, every day things.

And yes…even in Valentine’s Day.

February 14th begs the question: what is love?

Love is not measured by boxes of chocolate, cards or bouquets of flowers. (That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with buying your girlfriend flowers, those couple dollars spent really will make her day. But still.)

It’s so much more than those little things.

Love is only one thing, one word, one name…. (drumroll please!)

Jesus Christ.

Here’s the deal:

You have been loved by Christ from day one, loved so much that he would willingly suffer and die so that you and I can have life. 

He loves you when you are happy. He loves you when you are sad. 

He loves you on those days when you look in the mirror and hate what you see. 

He loves you on the days you feel beautiful. 

He loved you all those times that you didn’t measure up to the world, and all those times you succeeded too. 

Every promise that the Bible gives us, every beautiful thing we have been given, and through every heartache and every blessing we are constantly reminded of the enduring love that our Savior has for us.

God’s love is often referred to as agape, which translated from Greek is most closely ‘unconditional love’. If you need a quick refresher on what this means, here you go.

It’s easy to forget all this, I know. No matter how you feel about today’s holiday, there is a love that tops everything we could possibly experience here on earth. I want to remind you to consider this love that you are so freely given.

So, beloved child of God, be loved today – and every day. You are worthy. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

 [Photo found on picmonkey.com]

 

 

Welcome to the Family

A few weeks ago, as a result of someone in my life being curious about Christianity, I reached out to others I knew for advice: I asked them what they thought the most important things to tell someone new to a relationship with Christ would be.

You know when you’re expecting something good but you get something more awesome than you could have anticipated? Yeah, me too.

All their thoughts were just too good not to share, so here they are!

Advice for New Christians (and reminders for ‘not-so-new’ believers too!):

“Above all, seek Truth. Once you find that, everything else falls away. And God’s word is ultimate truth, so trust in that and seek Him. All Jesus said we have to do is knock, and the door will be opened. So all you have to do is knock, and Jesus will come the rest of the way to pursue your heart.”

” 1. Being a young believer is the sweetest, yet sometimes the most difficult time in your walk, but every difficult time you encounter, The LORD brings you a step closer to Him and His plan for you! Never stop praying. Talk to God when you don’t understand something. Tell him about your heartache, your hopes, your frustrations…everything! He wants to hear from you. There’s absolutely NOTHING you can’t go to Him with. 2. You are going to fall short. We really all are, and we will until we take our last breath. But man, let me tell you, life with Jesus is a life I never thought I could have, until I did. Your eyes are opened to literally a new world filled with love from the LORD and the Holy Spirit. It’s not all easy and smooth, but when you hold tight to Jesus, everything you thought was impossible is super teeny tiny now. That’s God. He has power. 3. BE loved. Crack open a Bible, reflect on the love you are freely given. Ask God the big questions. You are never alone. Find community, and even though the world and it’s temptations feel bigger than this whole God thing, they are truly not. HOLD FAST, because you are never being let go of, unless you choose to let go.”

“Congratulations, you just made the best decision of your entire life. But it’s not a magic potion, life will still have its usual ups and downs. But this time, you have something worth fighting for. God will stand before you and behind you as you walk through each day. It will be hard at times, but cling to Jesus and the hope he has now given you. In the end, it will always be worth it. You are redeemed, you are a new creation, and you CAN do this. You are worthy. You are loved.”

“Becoming a Christian is one of the biggest decisions you can make. It’s laying down your will, accepting imperfection and loving without bounds. Confusion and questions will come, you’ll doubt, but rather than give up, search. Search scripture, many of the people of the Bible doubted too, and they leaned closer and asked God themselves. ‘I do believe, but help me with my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24)”

“Always try to surround yourself with fellow believers; people who will build you up, encourage you, keep you accountable and help you grow in your faith. Always try to read your Bible when you can. It is like “daily nutrition”, the more you ‘eat’, the quicker you’ll grow. Search for Him in all areas and aspects of your life, and ALWAYS give Him the glory! Learning to trust God is hard at first, but it makes your faith stronger. You have to have patience and faith in His plan for you. He will never let you down and we can always count on his promises. When you’re faced with a decision, God’s Word is the place to go! PRAYER, that’s a big one. God loves when we talk with Him. Always put Him first in everything you do and decision you make.”

I hope that whatever walk of faith you are at right now, whether long time believer or never even considered Christianity, that this advice will inspire you in some way. Blessings!

Guard Your Treasure

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot firm from evil. {Proverbs 4:23-27}

I want to talk about something really important to me: purity.

In a society governed by sexuality and immorality, it is nearly impossible to tell what is right and what is wrong if you are not grounded in the Word day in and day out, which quite frankly I don’t know many people who do, certainly not me as hard as I try.

Today I would like to focus specifically on purity.

Purity covers a large spectrum of values, but the most obvious is sexual purity, or refraining from sex until marriage. As a sacred act, it is vitally important that we remain abstinent for our future spouses and our own well being.

But just because you haven’t done ‘it’ yet doesn’t excuse you from staying pure. I used to know someone who preached purity, but she dressed in inappropriate clothing and did other sexual things with her boyfriend. Am I the only one seeing the problem here?

Purity covers our eyes too.

Looking at another person with lust, dressing to show off our bodies, watching pornography or simply talking about things that are not appropriate that leave images in our minds is just as important. Finally, as the verse above says, guard your heart. By keeping your eyes on Jesus and not allowing Satan to tempt you into impurity, your heart will be grounded in faith. This means praying or reading your bible when you feel tempted, instead of falling into that temptation.
Purity is what sets Christians apart, especially with the world like it is today. We are God’s people, in whom the Holy Spirit lives and it is important to honor God with our bodies and minds by staying pure.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”