Content at CHRISTmas?!?!?

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Manger picCHRISTmas is the season that strengthens my ability to look up and down, and keeps me from looking side to side too often!!  Let me explain . . . .

This is the season where the pull from retail is SO STRONG and they work SO HARD to make me feel like I’m missing out if I don’t have what they are selling!!  There are more advertisements, flyers, mailed items, e-mailed items, Facebook posts, etc. . . . all centered on one thing . . . . . . WE NEED MORE STUFF!!!!!!!  And this particular item is what we need!!!!!  With all this coming at me it creates a certain stress in my heart!!!!!

And yet on the flip side . . . . . . .

I love to wander around Target . . . . alone . . . . with an empty shopping cart.  It’s one of my GREATEST JOYS, and yet at the same time one of my husband’s GREATEST FEARS!!  But this time of year is my favorite because all of the CHRISTmas promotions are out and all the special packaging and ???????? are out.  I love to see what’s new and cute and fun.  It doesn’t all make my shopping cart, but I do enjoy just wandering around and looking at it all.

This always starts out as a good trip, but it can soon turn sour as I see all the stuff I don’t have and yet maybe I should have it?!?!?!  But I don’t have it, and I never knew it existed, but now for some strange reason I don’t just want it, I think I NEED IT!!!!!!!!  And what started out as a fun trip around my favorite store has turned my heart into a downward spiral because not only can I not afford to buy all the stuff I’m seeing, but I really don’t want all this stuff in my house!!!!!!!!

I have been talking with Jesus a lot about CONTENTMENT these days!!!  My heart gets all jumbled up as I look at what everyone else has around me!  At the ministry opportunities others are getting!  At the piles of gifts that others are giving and getting!  At all the CHRISTmas parties and activities swirling around me!  At the perfect children in all the CHRISTmas cards!  At the beautiful decorations that are decked on everyone’s halls!  I could go on and on and on at how my heart keeps comparing my world to everyone else!!!  And what is so hard is that with each comparison I COME UP LACKING!!!  Or so it seems to me!!

Comparison . . . . this is what kills me every time!!!!  When I look at those AROUND ME . . . . side to side . . . . it’s NEVER A GOOD THING!!!!!  All this breeds in my heart is DISCONTENTMENT!!!!!!!!

God doesn’t want us to be looking side to side!!!  He longs for us to LOOK UP . . . . . TO HIM . . . . . our SWEET and PRECIOUS PRINCE OF PEACE!!!!!!!!  That baby in the manger, the one we are celebrating this season . . . . if we keep our EYES ON HIM we will find all the peace and contentment that we long for!!!!!!!!!

I find myself over and over having to stop and correct my gaze!!  I need to stop looking side to side, but to tip my head back and look up to the Lover of my Soul!!!!!  It’s AMAZING!!!  When I do that all of the stuff of the side drifts away and I am engulfed in His HOLY STARE and I can’t get my eyes off of the one that brings such a change of heart to me!!!  I have to confess my jealousy, envy and wandering eyes off of Him . . . . . but He scoops me right back up in His arms for a wonderfully warm CHRISTmas cuddle and at that point NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!!!!!!!!!!  For in the arms of the Prince of Peace I am the most content I will ever be!!!!

So as I continue to walk through this season I will continue to allow God to strengthen my ability to keep my eyes from looking side to side, but instead keep them focused LOOKING UP to the cross or LOOKING DOWN to the baby in the manger!!!!

Why is Beauty so HARD?!?!?!?!?

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I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan where we currently are experiencing the snowiest November since sometime in the 1800’s.  The bonus to that is I teach Middle School by day, so that gave me two glorious days off of work for snow days!!  (THANK YOU JESUS!!!)

I tell you about the snow so you understand how THRILLED my heart is to be heading to Florida in less than a week from this post!!!  WOO HOO!!!!!!  AS I type this I see that tomorrow it’s going to be in the 80’s there!!!  Oh my Michigan friends . . . . please don’t hate me!!!  ;  )

The reason I tell you this is because I’m heading down to speak at a CHRISTmas women’s event at Real Life Church in Clermont, Fla.  I can’t wait to serve these women on Dec. 1!!!  But getting ready for this event has been more difficult than I anticipated!!  Trying to decide what to wear to a Women’s Christmas event on Dec. 1 in 80 degree weather is too much for this freezing Michigander to handle!!!!  I keep asking anyone that might be able to help me to know WHAT I SHOULD  WEAR?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I think I have that figured out . . . . . as least I sure hope I do!!!!

But in addition to that I have been using a dark brown and a navy blue eye shadow for years and it’s time to replace them.  I figured I would get the same colors and be done!!  After all . . . . . HOW HARD CAN THIS BE?!?!?!?!?!

I go walking into the mall, arm in arm with my man ~ (yes, I thought taking him along was a good idea, because how long could this really take?!?!?!)  I had a recommendation from someone about a certain eye shadow that she loves, so I went searching for it.  I started at Macy’s, nope.  The gal there sent me towards JC Penny’s, nope, not there either.  Leave Penny’s let’s try Bare Minerals.  The woman there didn’t want to HELP me . . . . she wanted to SELL me stuff!!  Back to Macy’s to see Rachel . . . . we are now friends!  Rachel says I have to go INTO JC Penny’s.  Off to Penny’s to try again.

If you are anything like me I hope you can sense the frustration and the impending MELTDOWN that is coming!!!!  This shouldn’t have been this hard!!  But I felt like I was trying to find a needle in a haystack!!  Evidently I was looking for a MIRACLE!!!!!

I have to be honest.  This hunt was not pretty!!!  I felt in over my head on a topic I felt totally intimidated by!!!!  With each stop at a makeup counter I felt like I had to re-explain what I was looking for, without sounding too pathetic!!!  I had NO IDEA what I was really looking for!!!  And since I didn’t know what I was really looking for I felt like no one could help me find it!!!!

Beauty . . . . . the quest for it can be so hard and complex!!!!  It can be so daunting as we try to find the perfect item that will make us look less like what we see in the mirror and more like the woman we are LONGING TO BE!!!!!!!!  The woman Jesus sees me to be.  So much of the struggle lies in the fact that I can’t see past my own faults, failures and foibles to see they beautiful and amazing woman that I truly am!!!!

We are told that we are made NEW in Christ!!!  The old has passed away and the new has come!!!  In Christ I am a NEW and BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING CREATION!!!!!!!

Someone needs to tell that woman in the mirror that she has been replaced by someone SO MUCH MORE AMAZING than who she believes herself to be!!!  She needs to realize that Jesus has come to RENEW HER . . . . REBUILD HER . . . . RESTORE HER . . . . . .REDEEM HER!!!!!!  Someone needs to tell this woman in the mirror how LOVED AND BEAUTIFUL SHE REALLY IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Earlier this week I sat next to a friend of mine that does not have long for this world.  Each day is an unexpected and precious gift to her family.  She is dying from cancer and is so very close to being swept up into the waiting arms of Jesus!!  When I sat next to her the first words out of my mouth were, “You look GREAT!!”  Looking back, who says that to a dying woman?  I know, it sounds crazy, but she really did look great!!!  But in reality she looked more than great . . . . she looked BEAUTIFUL and RADIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!  As I think back to that night I smile as I picture her with her bald head rapped in a scarf, eyebrows painted on, her smile sweet on her lips!!  I’m here to tell you that woman was BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!  Tears as I think of her pure beauty!!!!  From the inside out!!!!!!

Oh girls . . . . how do we define beauty?!?!?!?!  Pretty sure it’s not at the makeup counter at the mall!!!  Pretty sure it’s not trivial words spoken from men!!  Pretty sure it’s not found on the clothes rack!!!!!!  Pretty sure it’s not found in the next diet book!!!!

Beauty . . . . . .

Our beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as our hair, jewelry, clothes, but it should be an UNFADING BEAUTY from our inner self . . . . this is where our truest beauty should come from!!  (1 Peter 3:3-4)

Yet some of us feel as though our lives are way too messy for beauty!!!  But Jesus promises us that from the mess of our ashes our beauty will arise!!!  Our past does not need to define us, we don’t need to get stuck there, but from our past is what Jesus uses to draw us to Him and draw out our beauty from the depths of our hearts!!!

So what does beauty look like in us . . . . . it’s begins with our minds and what we think on . . . . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about these things.

Oh yes . . . . these are the things I want my mind, heart, and soul to dwell on!!  I want my beauty to come from the deepest part of my heart that is held tightly by Jesus!!!  Not a fleeting beauty . . . . . but a beauty that will LAST!!!!

So . . . . . . yes . . . . . I did find some new eye shadow.  But it doesn’t do anything to change the core of who I am or who I want to be.  But it did make me stop and think about my own beauty and listen to Jesus a bit more on this topic!

I hope you will take some time with Jesus today and ponder your own beauty.  Take some time to listen to what your sweet Jesus has to say to you about your own beauty, how He sees you and what He has to say to you!!  I’m thinking you might just hear Psalm 45:11 come from His heart to yours!!!