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Through his eyes

In my job with students during the weekday, I get to spend my time supporting them in various activities. I have had the pleasure of learning how to play the saxophone. I have sat through many an assembly. Gone on a number of field trips, and completed a number of art projects. This was no different.

The assignment was 20 things. Each student had to turn to a page in their book and list 20 things that described themselves.

I noticed something. So many were struggling with those 20. Needed help even coming up with one. Looked around the room for a word. Even asked their peers to describe them, wrote what their peers said, or some word they over heard. “Oh yes, that’s me.”

It bothered me enough that I sat in the lunch room the next day and did the same thing. I wanted to make sure I was just as distracted. To see if this was the reason it was so hard. If I could come up with my own list of 20, or if I would need help along the way. If I would get stuck. Need to look around for validation. Seek the faces of the people around me for support.

‘Cause you stood right there, And then you broke apart the lies. You told me I had something beautiful inside. You brought to life the part of me I thought had died. ‘Cause you stood right there until I saw me; I saw me through your eyes  -Brit Nicole, Through Your Eyes

And I realized why it wouldn’t take me long. And, after seeing my list, why mine was so different than the lists of those preteens in that art class. Because words like forgiven and redeemed would not be on their lists. They were seeing themselves through the eyes of the world. Placing value on themselves based on the opinions of those around them.

I knew in the moment I wrote my 20 things who gave me my value: God. I see myself how He sees me.

But I didn’t always feel this way. I am pretty sure my preteen self looked to the world for approval. I didn’t seek God. I know for sure I didn’t have the relationship I have with Him now. My friends were much “cooler.” Or so I thought.

If I only knew what I know now. No one will love you like He will. No one will accept you in your brokenness like He will. No one will forgive you in the way He will. No one will see all your wretchedness, and look at you with tender love the way He will. No one can  see you the way He does. So stop looking at yourself through the lenses of everyone else, and start looking at yourself through His eyes.

https://youtu.be/WJzaQP1GmEc

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Posted by on January 10, 2019 in Loving Oneself

 

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If He sees beauty here…so will I

If creation sings your praises, so will I. -Hillsong UNITED

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I decided during my quiet time this week to do something a little different. Instead of my usual front porch sitting, I took my show on the road. I loaded up my Bible, my journal, and my pen, and headed to the lake in my local neighborhood in which I am blessed to live.

And, I just sat. Taking in all the beauty that surrounded me during that time. The big huge boulder that supported and anchored my back as I sat in the grass along the bank. The fireflies that danced and skimmed the waters surface. The water that rippled with the blowing winds, and the sun’s rays. The stray bird that flew through the air.

As I sat there, I realized that I needed to make sure that I spent more time doing this. Just sitting. Appreciating the beauty that surrounded me daily.

And, then I thought of something else.

What if I applied this to the body I was in? Saw beauty in it, and all that it has to offer? Walked into a room, not feeling uncomfortable, naked, and exposed? But, feeling like I belonged…because my Heavenly Father always sees beauty there?

This need to feel comfortable in my own skin. To see beauty where God sees it. To accept my quirks as gifts from Him, comes from the transformation I have witnessed in the last several weeks in my daughter.

My preteen, who still adorns her head with silly headbands, and professes she doesn’t care what others think, has now gained a certain slouch of shame when she witnesses the all to common changes that she is seeing in her body.  And, I know. I know she has witnessed this from me. Even heard many words of shame as I critique my body, my supposed personality flaws, my errors. Yes, modesty is key. Integrity. Righteousness. These are something for which we should strive. However, perfection doesn’t exist, and our personalities are usually given to us for a reason. Furthermore, being a woman should never be something of which we are ashamed.

Then there is my son. Neurologically different because of his autism. A condition that makes him look no different, but yet keeps his belly in knots with anxiety. In addition, he is also a bit socially awkward…sometimes saying and doing the wrong thing, at the absolute wrong time. Who now has a sister who will wrestle with her self-esteem. He will hear her negative self-talk. See her be uncomfortable in her skin, and begin to believe it may be alright to talk to women this way. To allow women to feel this way.

And what comes next, is the doubt she begins to feel when she hears someone tell her mom, “You sure are sassy!” She hears she needs to tone her spunk, her “go get em” attitude down a bit.

When she hears me lament about some part of my physical makeup that I don’t like. My tooth that’s crooked. My too curly hair I only started to make peace with, that is just like hers. She will in turn start to wonder if she is flawed as well.

When he becomes more aware of his differences (because as he gets older, they do become more apparent), will he continue to shrug off the kids that call him “nerd,” or “weird?” Will he be bothered by the fact that he truly is uncomfortable, because he doesn’t know how to interact in the space he is in? And, if I can’t see beauty in me. If she can’t see beauty in the skin she is in, he will in turn learn this is the norm.

Her spirit is diminished more and more, and the belief that she is truly fearfully and wonderfully made becomes overshadowed by the critiques and expectations of the world.

She forgets to see God’s beauty in the space she is in. In the body she occupies. In the personality He has given her.

He feels different because he is wired differently. Thinks differently. Is sometimes awkward. Often comes off as rude. Wonders why God made him this way, and forgets that He too…was made in His image. Autism, and all.

We are all messy, unique, quirky, weird, sassy, beautiful, funny, and glorious. In the space we are in. But, somewhere along the way, we will hear a different message.

I hear…she hears…he hears…we hear…You don’t measure up. You don’t fit in. You need to change.

If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I

 If He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made….so will I.

Because the tree just stands majestic. It may drop its leaves in silence when the time is right, but in due time, it buds again.

The flower isn’t told not to bloom. That its colors are too bold. Its fragrance too sweet. Its petals and design too quirky.

The bird isn’t told to sing a new song. That the one it chirps is too loud, not their style, or doesn’t sound quite right. It belts out its tune anyway.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. Psalm 139:13-14

That girl. That boy. This woman. You. Will walk into a room and feel comfortable in the space we are in. Not slouching. Standing tall and majestic. Not feeling awkward, or weird, or different. But, like an exotic flower that blooms boldly. Like a bird, singing a song, that may not be someone else’s style. It may be out of tune, and too loud.

But, if creation can sing praise for what God has made…then, so will I.

So will I.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2018 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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Until His voice is louder

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“Whose voice is loudest in your life?” -Sadie Robertson

“You failed again.”

“Not good enough.”

“Yep. Told you they were right. Nothing redeeming in that one.”

“No one cares. No one is listening. Where is your God now?”

“Mmmmhmmmm. You messed up good this time. He isn’t coming to save you.”

Imperfect. Failure. Incompetent. Naive. Ineffective.

The voices that drown out the loving words of my Father, are the ones of criticism and contempt. These take residence in my head. Mess with my deepest insecurities and doubts. And, after they do, then Satan has done his job. Had me believing all the lies he and others have told me.

But, this is the thing about the devil:

“He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies.” John 8:44, MSG

And, the Liar fills our heads with them, too. Our homes. Our hearts. Our relationships.

I don’t want the loudest voice occupying space in my head to be the one that tells me how horrible I am. How unloved and unworthy I am. I don’t want the one occupying space in my home, my relationships to be the author of destruction.

I want the voice that speaks the loudest to me. The one that drowns out all the nonsense and lies of the world to be words of encouragement.

I don’t want the words that are the loudest to be reminding me every time I fall (because I do…flat on my face!)…but, to remind me of all the times I have gotten back up, and to gently pick me up when I don’t feel like I can go on, because that voice gives strength.

But, how do I push away those other voices-those dirty, lying, abusive, no good to me voices?

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Stay in His word. Armed with His truth!

Just as Jesus was as he walked with Satan in the wilderness. Even the King of Kings wasn’t immune to the incessant, lying schemes of the enemy (Luke 4:1-13)

When Jesus needed sustenance, the devil used his voice to attempt to diminish God’s ability to provide: “Come on, Jesus. Can’t you provide your own bread if you are so great?” (v. 3)

When Jesus was suffering, hurt, broken, ready to give up…he offered him a way out; not once, but twice. “Come on, Jesus. Don’t you want all of this? This kingdom before you instead of that cross?” Jesus listened to God’s voice (v. 6-7).

“Come on, Jesus. Just jump and give up already! Your God will save you, won’t he?” (v. 9-11). But, Jesus once again listened to God. Each time rebuking the devil with God’s voice. He will be my provider. He will meet my needs. He is my one and only God. I will not test him.

Our critics. Our naysayers. The insecurities the devil knows so well…because he does. He knows them. Those negative thoughts cannot become the loudest voices in our heads.

The voice that needs to shout above all the lies that Satan attempts to throw at us while we walk in the wilderness needs to be our Father’s. The one that reminds us we are not failures, we are worthy. We are not imperfect, we are wonderfully made. We are not incompetent, we are qualified through Him; made powerful through His strength.

When the devil tries to tell us anything different, we shout the truth. When the devil tries to convince us to give up, we remember God’s word that encourages us to persevere. We make His voice the only one allowed to have permanent residency in our head.

Until His voice is the loudest!

 

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2018 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Oneself

 

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His masterpiece

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

It’s another day down. Another day when I wake up, put on my “game face,” which means I bathed myself in prayer, opened up His Word, put on my battle gear, and vowed that I would stand against the attack from the enemy every step of the way.

But, I have to admit. I have been in a season when that enemy has been hounding me. He has been whispering lie after lie after lie. And…on those days when I pray, and I am ready to fight, that is when his voice gets louder.

See, he tells me I am useless. That I am not reaching anyone. That this light I hope is shining through the darkness is only burning out. He tells me that no one is listening. Really cares to hear what I have to say. It goes in one ear and out the other. I will never make a difference. That the cycles of despair and defeat will repeat themselves. My God will never use me to make a difference.

When the lies he starts to tell me don’t work, he uses people to try to convince me I am unworthy. Broken. Bruised. Damaged. Not capable. Until I start to believe all of it.

But, God? He tells me something different.

Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I was sculpted from nothing into something.     Psalm 139: 14, 15 MSG

He has made me.

Yes, I do have bruises, scars, scrapes, and blemishes. But, God has pieced this masterpiece together. There are hills and valleys that tell stories of triumphs and despair. Battles I have fought and won; and many more lost.

Yet, those bruises, scars, scrapes, and blemishes all tell the stories of those battles. The hills climbed to reach those triumphs, and the valleys where I often wallowed in defeat. Those scars, blemishes, and imperfections…those are the ones seen and picked apart by the outside world.

Thankfully, like any masterpiece I was crafted by my maker. Who believes I am altogether flawless.

Who placed those hills and valleys just where they are so they can be a testimony.

Who healed the wounds. The bruises. But left the scars and blemishes.

And, like a masterpiece counts me as priceless. Worth an exorbitant price.

Worthy enough to die for!

 

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in You Make All Things New

 

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one word: acceptance

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God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. 

Surrender. My word for 2016. A word that challenged me to let go. And while I did drop off some baggage in the form of thoughts, practices, and even people; there is something telling me that I still have a ways to go on this journey.

As I reflected on the past year. The chaos. The times I felt attacked. Uncertain. The many days I walked around dazed, all because I was carrying too many of my own burdens, and attempting to lug the baggage of others around, I realized an important truth.

With surrender must come acceptance. Once I let go, I have to be willing to accept that I laid down that burden. Never to be picked up again.

Acceptance of the ups and downs. Knowing that each blessing. Each trial is the divine work of God.

Acceptance of my flaws. Understanding that I am not perfect, but “made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Accepting that others are not perfect either. Realizing these flaws are what makes us vulnerable. What makes us crave the power of a savior.

Accepting that not everyone will get me. Support me. Even like me. Knowing that it doesn’t matter. Since God always loves me. Knows all the traits others don’t “get,” and accepts me as I am-depsite what may bug others.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you. John 15:7

Acceptance of differences. Being willing to explore a different opinion. Engage in a conversation with someone who may not have the same views. Realizing our differences, and our ability to see past them is what makes human relationship so sacred. So beautiful.

In doing this, I will also accept that some may not value my differences. May judge my choices. My parenting style. My words. My actions. Learning to shake it off, and instead walk in empathy with others, when others may not show it to me.

I will take defeat. Embrace failure. Accept it as an opportunity to grow, to become humble in my weakness. Relinquish the pride that comes with being successful and right all the time.

Accept the situations I cannot change. The people I can’t change. Recognizing God’s will is more important than my desire to “fix” all that I see is wrong. Relinquishing control to the only one who can change circumstances. Hearts. Minds.

Accepting that life is messy. Ministry is messy. Parenting is messy. And, people….yes, they are, too. Accepting that it’s not my job to “clean-up” this mess. Instead, taking in all its glory. Recognizing the beauty in all that is not neat and tidy.

And, accepting that my home may be a mess. Void of neat and tidy. Knowing that as long as those that inhabit it are happy. Loving each other. Enjoying each other. That it doesn’t matter if the bookcases are dusty. The counters are crumby. Or the carpets are dirty.

Accepting me. All that makes me who I am. My personality. My body. My pet peeves. My past. My wants. Desires. Dreams. Even if others can’t handle it. I will accept the woman He has called me to be.

This year I will accept the mundane. The chaos. The beautiful. The ugly. Those that are different. Those that love me, and those that don’t. The messy, and the neat.

Whatever He throws my way. Whatever His will.

Acceptance.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2017 in One Word 2014, You Make All Things New

 

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Before the world tells her different

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Sassy, Stubborn. Bull-headed.

Words I often use to describe my daughter. The words I use to describe the battle of wills endured here at home. After the “No, I won’t,” and “Yes, you wills.” After the demands to do this and not that. To wear boots in July. Flip-flops in winter. The demands to have her own way, and be her own person. To eat chocolate bars for breakfast. The need to have the last word. To fight to the end.

Sassy. Stubborn. Bull-headed. And under her sweet exterior, a gigantic force to be reckoned with. Fighting to the end.

My dear, dear friends, stand your ground. Don’t hold back…consider that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. 1 Corinthians 15:58, MSG

It is her stubbornness. Her tenacity. This endurance to continue the fight that I hope to never dim.

Because, this gift. This trait that often frustrates me, will be just what is needed for her continue to fight the “good fight.”

The fight with the world that will tell her she is too sassy. Too outspoken. Too strong-willed. Before that passion and determination is squelched by a world that just can’t handle it.

Help her see, that even if it frustrates me, that these traits are exactly what the world needs. Exactly what God provided for His purpose in her life.

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” Jeremiah 1:5, MSG

That her stubborn nature will be just what is needed to persevere when she feels like giving up.

Her sassy and no-nonsense attitude-what is needed when she needs to stand up for what is right. Speak the truth, or communicate passion for a cause.

That her ability to not worry about what others think, care if she is mismatched, and desire not to follow the crowd will come in handy when the world tries to break her confidence. Tell her to “fit in,” to act, speak, and look a certain way.

That her tenacity will help her continue to embrace the word “no.” That she is content and steadfast in saying the word. Knowing that she has this right to say it to things she doesn’t want or doesn’t believe in. To protect her values. Her peace of mind. Her body. Her freedom.

And, if dealing with this sassy, mismatched, and tangled mess of a girl ensures she continues to love who she is….then I will stand by. Daring the world to tell her anything different.

“You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love; beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.” Song of Solomon 4:7, MSG

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2016 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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Enough

Enough

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

My name is January. I am an approval addict. I want to be liked. I want to be enough of everything to everyone. I struggle with the dangerous need to please. A need and a desire that saps my energy. That festers in my soul. That listens to the lies of the devil when I become the target of someone’s unkind words, hurtful whispers, or misguided actions. A dangerous need to be liked that causes me to constantly question if I am good enough.

My name is January. I have several other identities. I am broken. A sinner saved and redeemed by the grace of God. I am flawed. I can be a little too “tough.” And, I have a testimony courtesy of all the mistakes I have made, and all the wrong paths I have chosen. Of all the imperfections that have made me who I am.

Even with all this…he thinks I am enough.

But, even with this truth, I have resorted too freely to people-pleasing. I try to please the society that is too quick to label anyone that does not fit the norm. The one that labels “bad” kids, “deadbeat” dads, “unfit” mothers. If you don’t work society calls you “lazy.” If you are not the shining star in class, then you are labeled “stupid” or “unteachable.” If you do not do everything just like those before you, then you are “incompetent.” If you don’t meet the ideal of perfection, you are unworthy.

But, this is not the truth.

You are enough.

In a world that will label you too broken, too damaged, too sassy, too sweet, too goofy, too this, too that. God says otherwise.

He says you are enough.

When you have yelled at your kids one too many times. When you are too tired to help with the homework. When you could not find the right words to say to soothe a hurting child. God says you are just the mom they need.

You are enough.

When the comparison trap rears its ugly head again. When the world tells you that you don’t measure up to its standards. When the devil’s lies scream that you don’t have what it takes. God says “I have called you. I have chosen you. You have just what I need.”

You are enough.

When you leave work feeling completely useless. Thinking you are out of your league, or that you are not making a difference. Doing it all wrong. Know that God has equipped you with the skills you need. The endurance to persevere.

You are enough.

When the guilt and shame of your past sins slowly start creeping back in. Remember, God gave you a fresh start. He gave you grace. He poured out His love to prove you are enough.

When the demands of life just become too much. When your balance is off. When you can’t remember who you are. When you just want to give up. God reminds us He has enough of what we need to get through.

So, you…the one reading this. Right now. The one who has been labeled “bad,” a “deadbeat,” unfit, lazy, unworthy.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

You are altogether flawless. (Song of Solomon 4:7)

Your weaknesses? Your failures? They will be used for good.

Because, you are important.

You are beautiful.

You are smart enough.

You are good enough.

You are strong enough.

You are worthy enough.

You are enough.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2015 in Loving Oneself

 

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