Hey! Would you cut it out?!

Have you ever done something and someone else tries to tell you to do it another way, because it's apparently "better"? Isn't that a little annoying sometimes? As if your way isn't good enough or something?
Yeah. That can be a bit frustrating. 
Now you know how God feels!

Okay, now you may be thinking.. "Wait what? How God feels? What are you talking about?"
As followers of Christ, God has a perfect plan for each of our lives. So often, we try planning our own steps, or the way WE want to go, rather than letting it be up to God. We think that we know better, you know, because we're somehow smarter than God, and know ourselves better than God does even though He created us, riiiight? WRONG! Is it coming together now?
I bet you can think of a time when you tried to plan things yourself, or figure out a way to force things together rather than letting God do His thing. I know I can!
So here's my challenge to you: Stop trying to metal with God's plans! Trust Him because He loves you more than you know, so much that He sent His only son to die for you! Have faith in Him because He is faithful to those who love Him. And be excited, for the Creator of the universe is working in YOUR life, and you never know what amazing things may happen when you leave it up to Him! :)
Proverbs 16:9"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."
Proverbs 19:21"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."   

Jeremiah 19:11"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

The Struggle of Beauty

(Originally written July 15th, 2009).

Proverbs 31:30
 It started weeks ago when I happened to see a make-up commercial for Covergirl announcing their new product called "Simply Ageless". Ellen DeGeneres played the usual, unrealistic looking "model" to show off the product. It wasn't the actual commercial that bothered me, but what she said in the very beginning... "Inner beauty is important, but outward beauty is even MORE important." In all honesty, I was somewhat angry. Being "beautiful" isn't everything. The sad part is, many girls will believe that. And it's completely contradictory to the Bible as 1 Samuel 16:7 says:

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

and 1 Peter 3: 3-4 also states:

"Let your beauty not be external – the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes – but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight."

More recently, I went to the beach for a week and during that time and the week after I got back five different people mentioned to me that I didn't seem THAT tan. (If you're one of those people, and you're reading this, I have nothing against you, I am just adding this to my point). It irritated me though... I'm not one to care a significant amount about my own outward beauty but this did bother me. Did you know that being tan was once not even valued?

"The alabaster skin I mentioned earlier was considered an essential item for the fashionable woman four hundred years ago, but it also caused a variety of skin problems. Some beauty writers at the time discouraged this practice, pointing out that it made skin appear grey and shriveled. Even worse, the foundation was responsible for numerous physical problems and resulted in some cases of muscle paralysis and untimely death. During the Renaissance, wealthy Italian women wore a popular face powder made of arsenic." (Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves. p. 18).

Just as you can tell, beauty trends are constantly changing. What does it matter if I'm not tan enough today, for tomorrow, pale skin could be in style again.... as for any trend, whether clothing or objects, etc. Part of it is just being satisfied with the way God made you and not constantly trying to be "good enough" for the world and it's corrupt and unrealistic views. Because the truth is, you will NEVER be good enough to the world or to people of the world. It ached my heart as I read through different posts from girls from the blog at http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/ So many girls (no matter what the age) struggle with being pretty enough or skinny enough.. the list goes on and on. And it's Christian girls too. Even Godly girls can be so insecure about the way they look. However, being beautiful can mean nothing when a girl's heart can be a dark shade of black, and full of hate and bitterness (Matthew 23:28). (Be sure to check out this link about having a "pretty heart": http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com/index.php?id=307
But in the midst of all the shallowness and fake views of the world, we can find truth from God's word about the way he loves us and what REAL beauty is:

Proverbs 31:30 - "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

Psalm 45:11 - "The King is enthralled by your beauty, honor Him for He is your God."

1 Timothy 2:9-10 - "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

Psalm 139:14 - "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Jeremiah 1:5 - "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart."

and a verse I previously mentioned from 1 Peter chapter 3:

"Let your beauty not be external – the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes – but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight."

I think a girl can be most beautiful when she's in love with Christ her Lord and desires to be more Christ-like each day; containing the most valuable fruits of the Spirit which are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23a). And if you read that verse carefully, you'll see that no where in it is "outward beauty".

My Prince Will Come and So Will Yours!

Tall, dark and handsome... Chocolate brown hair and a smile you just can't seem to resist. Or perhaps you're more for the sandy blonde with that certain color shade of eyes that just reach out and grab you! Either way, he's drop dead gorgeous, strong, manly and seeks to win over your heart! Just in case you're lost, let me fill ya in! We're talking about that "Prince Charming" which I'm certain all of you reading, whether knowingly or subconsciously, dream about from time to time.

As girls, I know our hearts seem to want the same when it comes to our future Prince Charming. We want a guy who will truly love us for who we are, who will be there for us, who will listen and understand, one that will not abandon us but be willing to love us enough to put us above his own desires. One who will be strong and take care of us all the days of our life. I know in today's world it's easy to see this "ideal" picture and then think "Yeah, whatever, this guy doesn't exist anymore. Most guys are just jerks!" And hey, I won't lie... there are a lot of not-so-good-guys in this world, but this note isn't to bash on them!

But did you know there's already a Prince Charming who does all these things and feels all these things for you? No, I'm not kidding! There really is! His name is Jesus Christ if you didn't already know. :) Okay now.. you may be thinking whoooa what?? I thought we were talking about guys! Like Earthly human guys?! And yes! We were... but before we talk about them, there's a very important thing I want you to understand!

Jesus Christ is your FIRST "Prince Charming". Remember earlier when I listed all those qualities that we like to see in a guy but have trouble finding them? Well... Did you ever think maybe we dream for all those qualities in a guy because those are all the qualities Jesus has? Interesting thought, isn't it! I'm pretty sure God designed our hearts to aim and wish for a guy like that because that's what He is like!
In order for you to have the best relationship with a guy in this world, you must first develop a deep and loving relationship with Jesus! By doing this it will help you:

1. Keep your priorities straight and remember that Jesus is your first love and that your relationship with him is the most important relationship ever!
2. Grow spiritually so that when you do meet your (earthly) Prince Charming, you'll be prepared enough to have a relationship with him.
3. In those times when you feel lonely, you can remember that you have Jesus! He is the only one who can truly satisfy you AND He is the one who loves you more than anyone could ever even imagine!
4. It will give you wisdom and help keep you out of potentially bad relationships that would only leave you heartbroken and hurt!

And there are still so many other reasons why keeping Jesus first is one of the best decisions you could ever make!

Above all, if you REALLY do want to find that earthly Prince Charming, then trusting it with Jesus is the only way you will find him! Why is that? Because Jesus knows your heart and your desires better than you do! Would you say that you know Facebook better than Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook)? No, of course you wouldn't, because you didn't design it.. you just use it! Same with us, God created us; therefore, he knows us best! By putting all of your complete trust and hope in Jesus, in time when you are ready, he will bring along your Prince Charming! :)

Psalm 139: 13-16 says: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

A.W. Tozer once said, "The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One."

Maybe this thought has crossed your mind.. "What if Jesus never brings me my Prince Charming? What if I end up SINGLE ALL MY LIFE! AND END UP DYING ALONE WITH 392 CATS?!?!" Okay okay, take a deep breath! I don't think it's possible for anyone to have 392 cats anyway! Jesus may have a life of singleness for you, he may have a life of singleness for me! One can never really be sure. I will say that the single life is certainly a blessing because you will still spend your life with the Prince Charming who loves you most, Jesus. He will always be with you and always love you.... in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. Jesus is our bridegroom whether we end up getting married on Earth or not. What is our goal here on Earth as followers of Jesus Christ? To glorify Him. With that being true, even though it may be difficult to understand, even if God does give you the gift of having a life of singleness, you being single was how you were able to glorify Him and fulfill His plan the most! Feel special to have such a place in God's plan, even if sometimes it is difficult and painful.

In 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 Paul wrote: "I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord."

After all that.. you're probably wondering well, should I do anything in the meantime? Yes! You can and SHOULD do things while you're waiting for your Prince Charming!

The season of singleness is not a curse... it's actually a great advantage! In this season, it's just you and God.
This gives you:
-the opportunity to grow spiritually and develop
-it gives you time to have many MANY opportunities to do things that you would not be able to do if you were in a relationship because you have those restrictions
-Remember when I said you're looking for a guy who represents all those qualities? Well guess what! That guy out there is probably looking for a Godly girl that has all the qualities a woman should have! The season of singleness gives you the opportunity to practice and prepare to be a wife, mother, etc. So take advantage of it! :)

Proverbs 31: 10-12 says: "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."

Did anything about that verse stand out to you? Notice the last part... "She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." ALL the days of her life! Whoa! That doesn't mean she brings him good after they're married... no, it means from the earliest time possible in her life she should try to bring him good. Now you may be wondering, how do I bring good to a guy I don't even know or if I don't even know if he exists! Here are some simple yet great ideas to keep your future man in mind while you're waiting!

1. Get out a piece of paper and write down the top 10 qualities or things you want in your guy! Keep this list and you may be surprised that someday God will fulfill each and every one of them! Also, don't be afraid to make a list of high standards and rarer qualities.... though it may get discouraging at times when you see this guy is hard to find... keep following it! You'll appreciate your Prince Charming all the more when God sends him your way. :)
2. Buy a journal and write to your future husband! You can write prayers, or thoughts, whatever you want! It can be encouraging and someday when you get married, you can show him that you thought about him even before you knew him! It will be a true sign of your genuine and great love for him!
3. I've read A LOT of books that deal with this subject. Just a few I'd like to recommend: "When God Writes Your Love Story" by Eric and Leslie Ludy; "And The Bride Wore White" by Dannah Gresh; "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" by Joshua Harris. Check out these books! Especially the first one.. It's been such a helpful tool to me and I'm sure it could be for you too! :)

George Mueller once said, "Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you."

Mueller is right, God will never fail you! So keep trekking along beautiful ladies, because God has YOUR best in mind. The journey that leads up to meeting your Prince Charming may be difficult, lonely and just plain painful at times.... but the joy in Christ and the joy through his future blessing of marriage will be worth all those lonely nights!

Psalm 18:30 - "As for God, his way is perfect"


Beautifully Selfless

Beautifully selfless is the main theme of this blog. Being selfless completely for Jesus Christ. Why? Because He gave himself up for me, He died for me, and now it's my turn to live for Him. 

Dying to self is probably one of the hardest things any of us could do. It goes against every part of our hearts and minds, which is telling us to do the opposite. It's letting go of all we ever wanted, of all we ever dreamed for. It's letting go of all that our heart cries out for and rather, crying out to God for what HE wants. 

My heart aches in certain places. Places that I have yet to completely die to self. I bet you know what I mean. Sometimes it's hard to understand why we must do this. Let's see what God's word says....

Galatians 2:20
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

This verse describes the exact truth of how we must be. When we come to know Christ, we are saying "Yes Jesus, I am giving up myself to You. It is no longer I that lives, but I am dying to my sinful nature, to my selfish wants, and living for Your glory and Your will." Now, we can't always be this way, simply because we are bound to stumble at times. But, ultimately, when Jesus comes into our lives, we are commanded and called to release all that we are to Him.

Sometimes we think it would just be much easier to have what we want and NOT die to self. And hey, it IS easy! But is that really the life we're called to live? 

One thing I've learned is that being a follower of Jesus means having a life of sacrifice. 
I can tell you, 100% assurance and in complete honesty, it is worth it.
Yes, it is ridiculously hard. It's a constant battle.
But it is so worth it. Jesus is worth it!

I may try to plan the steps I will take or the things I want to do. But do I have any assurance or certainty of those working out? No.

With Jesus, I may not have any planned steps, truthfully, I may actually have no idea where I am going. I may have no certain direction. But, what I do know, is that Jesus knows where I am going. He has planned steps, he has my direction. While I may have to rely completely on Him with all the faith and trust in me, I also can know that Jesus is doing something amazing, something I cannot fully see. And the best part is, I do have assurance and I do know that the way I'm headed is one that is blessed with joy and meaning. One that is full of surprises... things I could have never dreamed of! 

What could be of any greater worth than dying to self and living for Jesus?
Luke 9: 23-25
"Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?"

Nobody's Perfect - Hannah Montana Style

Tonight while my family was over to celebrate the day (Happy Thanksgiving ;)), my niece and I decided to listen to her little iPod Shuffle through her little mini iPod docking station.

As I was flipping through her songs I came across a very well known young singer, Hannah Montana AKA  Miley Cyrus. The song was "Nobody's Perfect", one that I was already familiar with (No.. I do not listen to Hannah Montana on the regular basis.. well, maybe sometimes.. JK!). I was paying close attention to the lyrics and then wahbam! God laid something on my heart to share... This song perfectly describes how as humans we act without God's guidance and wisdom.

She starts off the song by saying...

"Sometimes I'm in a jam
I've gotta make a plan
It might be crazy
I do it anyway
No way to know for sure
I'll figure out a cure
I'm patchin' up the holes
But then it overflows

When things happen in our lives, things that cause an unfortunate circumstance or one that leads us to be uneasy and in want of a quick fix, we tend to automatically rely on our own knowledge. We see the problem and usually automatically begin thinking of a way that we can solve it, without the grace and wisdom of God. Notice how she says, "It might be crazy, I do it anyway". Honestly, this line right here just shows how ignorant and foolish we can be. Rather than trusting in a God who knows all things and loves us, we trust in our deceitful human nature and sinfulness to lead us out of trouble and into better places. Silly us! She then goes on to sing "No way to know for sure ... but then it overflows". You know, I almost LOVE the ignorance in this song as it leads me to appreciate and value the wisdom I have in Jesus. Hannah Montana is wrong, there IS a way to know for sure. As followers of Christ, we shouldn't be led by our own ideas as to what decision(s) we should make.  We are unable to fix things, and maybe we can "patch up the holes" but eventually it will "overflow".

"Sometimes I work a scheme
But then it flips on me
Doesn't turn out how I planned
get stuck in quick sand
No problem, can be solved
Once I get involved
I try to be delicate
Then crash right into it
My intentions are good
Sometimes just misunderstood

If Miss Montana gets anything right, it's knowing exactly how us humans act. Isn't it sad how true this song is? How we make up all these ideas before consulting God, which can merely lead us into deeper issues... rather than being patient and waiting on God, we "then crash right into it". And perhaps we do have good intentions, but are they wise? I'm starting to wonder...

"Sometimes I fix things up
And they fall apart again

Now ain't that the truth! We always do that! Us humans, always holding the assumption that we are capable of solving our own problems, that we are in no need of God's perfect wisdom and guidance. That's like me saying I'd rather do my math problem out on scratch paper instead of a calculator. NOW WHO DOES THAT! (Unless you really like Math.. well then you don't count)! :P

Proverbs 1:7
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, 
but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

So hey, next time you're "in a jam", how about you stop and reflect on the power of Jesus and of what you could ever possibly do in comparison to what the Creator can do!
That concludes my summary of Nobody's Perfect.. perhaps Hannah Montana can take a tip or two from this. ;)


What road has God called you to walk?

Recently I went through a difficult time with someone I was very close to. I am slowly but surely recovering from it all and have been able to take a lot of the experience it gave. Sometimes difficult things happen and it can be very hard to understand why. 

When I think of my experience, six months ago my whole mind and heart would have said, "No way, that won't/can't be me! Things are great and that's not going to happen." Little did I know that God had something quite the opposite in mind. 
Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine about Elizabeth Elliot, wife of the late Jim Elliot. We were discussing how she went through such difficult experiences. The most notable is how long she waited to be with her first husband, Jim. I believe it was around five or so years, only to have to deal with him dying just a few years later while serving as a missionary in Ecuador. If I had been Elizabeth, I would have been devastated and confused, not to say she wasn't, but still, waiting so long to be with a man she loved just to have him taken away from her? That's rough.

But as my friend and I continued to talk, she mentioned how that was merely the road that God picked her to walk. We all have different roads, we all have bumps and times when we trip and fall. I would say that our roads have seasons... sometimes they are beautiful and gorgeous and warm... while other times they are cold, dark and lonely. God has a master plan, one that we will never completely understand. And while I can reflect on my experiences and not always know why things had to be this way, I can have the assurance that God does know. Whether I can explain it or not, I can trust in Him in the road I've traveled so far and the road that I've yet to travel. Designed with a purpose, each of our roads give God the glory He deserves.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.