A Reflection of Christ

I have been conforming to the world rather than the Word.

I obsess over society specific standards of beauty rather than the beauty of my soul. I have cares more about pleasing the world than pleasing my husband. I have focused on my looks (weight, fashion etc) more than on God.

I believe in charity, in Christ’s call to give to the poor. But lately I have not given enough. I am well past due for a donation to one of my favorite organizations – St Jude’s.

I have not been a good steward of the time that God has granted me. I fritter away my time on social media.

This past weekend I fast it again from social media like I used to, and I think it was good for me. Social media is still good for many things, and as a housewife it can be an important way for me to connect to others around me. But too much time spent on social media is a waste. It could be put to better use educating my child, cleaning my house, reading a good book, or creating poetry. There’s so much more I could do than scroll Facebook or Instagram.

I need to be open and comfortable with how I look. I need to fully adjust dressing modestly because it’s what makes God happy and what makes my husband happy. And I think it reminds me to die to the flesh a little bit. I need to give more, whether it is of my time or money. With mental issues being the way they are it can be difficult to donate time just because it’s hard to make a long-term commitment. But I need to find some way to give of myself to my community.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is difficult. This is especially true if the person you need to forgive isn’t sorry.

Everyone has someone in their lives that they need to forgive, whether it’s for something small or something really big. For me, forgiveness is a struggle for sure.

Some people don’t understand forgiveness, or misuse the very concept for their own benefit. Forgiveness doesn’t mean taking someone back into your life. Forgiveness doesn’t mean trusting them again. Forgiveness doesn’t mean making excuses for them. Forgiveness means that you have chosen to let go of any bitterness or anger, not for their benefit but for yours.

I am on a journey of forgiveness. It’s a process. I’m in therapy to try to work things out and I think that’s helping. If I want to be a disciple of Christ I have to forgive. I don’t have to tolerate abuse. I don’t have to take anyone’s crap. But I do need to find it in my heart to forgive those who have wronged me, who have mistreated me.

Perfume for Jesus’s Feet

Angelica came to me yesterday and told me she made a cross. She had drawn a cross – and put my favorite scrapbooking bows all over it. 

I have been letting Angelica go into the craft room by herself and use materials she likes for several months now. I’ve been sharing craft supplies with her her whole life, but until recently I supervised 100 percent of the time and chose the materials she could use. Angelica is growing up so fast though that lately that I let her come and go in the craft room alone or with Grace, her wonderful babysitter. She can use any paper, stickers, ribbon, washi tape etc that she wants.

Yet I had a moment of dispair when I saw she had used some of my favorite little pieces all at once and on one project. I was happy to see her artwork, and thrilled by her devotion to Jesus, but I did feel a little twinge when I realized I couldn’t use those for still lifes again or for a collage or scrapbook page. 

Then I had a revelation. Angelica loves these bows too. She didn’t give one thought to giving all the best bows, at once, to Jesus. It is a given she will never have those supplies again. She knows that, and she didn’t hesitate. Angelica gave her perfume to Jesus. My job as a mother is to help her grow in her faith and continue to pour her best bottle of perfume on the feet of Jesus. And yesterday, I learned from her.

A Violet

Therese Lisieux was a Carmelite nun who lived in the latter half of the 19th century. Although she lived a very short life, dying at 24 from tuberculosis, the writings she left behind about flowers are compelling and influential in church thought. As Therese would meditate on flowers she would learn lessons about God. Her writings on flowers were compiled into a book called The Story of a Soul.

Sometimes she wrote about individuality and our place in God’s Kingdom. In one passage she wrote, “I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay.”

What that really drives home to me is that whether you live your life in the Limelight among other people or not, you are important and God thinks you contribute to the beauty of creation. The violet is no less worthy than the rose. She goes on to say that the Saints are like lilies or roses and that we must be content to be the violets or daisies that God smiles at when He looks down. What I think this means is that while Saints’ souls have been perfected by fire, we are beautiful too. We can’t all be Saints, and we should not all be Saints. We may not stand out in a crowd of souls like they do, but if the world was filled with all the same kind of people everything would get very monotonous. Everyone’s variety and individuality is needed. It makes God smile, and anything that makes God smile is a necessary thing. God uses a macro lens when he sees us, examining our beauty in detail so that even the smallest of us flowers is gorgeous to Him.

Along those lines, Therese wrote that all of us can be perfect when we become that which God designed us to be. Popular culture seems to focus so much on perfection. And in Christianity we avoid the very concept because none of us are without sin, and to be truly perfect is to be sinless. But this is another, interesting idea of perfection that I like. God has designed each and everyone of us with a unique personality and temperament, with different skills and interests, and with different purposes. When we live out our purposes and function in the way He designed us, we are perfect. Obviously our souls are not perfect because we are sinners. Everyone needs Jesus. But our personhood can be perfect.

Then the question becomes, what are my gifts and what is my purpose? How can I fully live in accordance with my design, including my personality, temperament, and life circumstances? To what degree am I already doing this or to which I might have already fulfilled my purpose at least by and large?

I know that I was meant to be Craig’s wife. So day in and day out I fulfill that purpose. I was meant to be Angelica’s mother. God chose me to be her mother. So I try to fulfill that purpose to the best of my ability. God designed me to be very creative. So what is the purpose of that creativity? Although I enjoy making art I am by no means proficient at it. So what is the purpose? It could just be so that I can enjoy it. God wants us to be happy. He wants us to be holy first, but wherever possible we should be holy and happy. My life provides the opportunity to be happy and gives me chances to work on myself to be more holy. I should take advantage of both opportunities. What role is creating things or doing photography supposed to play in my life?

What about my writing? As a writer I sometimes feel so isolated. I always thought I would go to grad school, get an MFA and then a Ph.D, and start teaching at the college level. I thought that I would know other writers from my days in grad school and that I would be publishing books. But I was not destined to do that. God had other plans for me, better plans. But my passion for writing poetry remains, and I have very little opportunity to use that voice above a whisper, at a volume that other people can hear me. So what am I supposed to do with all my poetry? What is the ultimate purpose to me being a poet? I might get a book published but I might not. I may try to publish more chapbooks since I really enjoy chapbooks, but there is no telling if that will come through and I have not submitted in a very long time. Is God’s plan for me to have a book published? Or does He have other plans for me and my little poems? Do I need to start submitting again? Or am I supposed to take some other avenue?

Moving to Colorado with my husband has brought about tremendous change in my life. New place, new people, new schedule, new terrain, new opportunities. I am sure that this move was important. What am I supposed to be doing with it? I’m getting involved with my church and I feel like that’s the right direction to go in. I don’t know what will come of my involvement, but maybe my hands are needed. I want Angelica to really get something out of living in Colorado for 3 years, whether that is simply amazing and beautiful experiences, or a friend that she’s supposed to make, or maybe getting plugged into this church will make a big difference in her life.

Like everyone else, I have so many facets to my personality. I’m kind of a mixture of Victorian lady, 1950s housewife without the good organizational skills, and a dark, Gothic princess. God made me these things, and there must be a reason for each one of them. So how can I live out my life in such a way as to be authentically who God made me, fulfilling his design for me and reaching perfection in what He wanted me to be?

I may never be a rose, either in God’s eyes or the world’s. You never know, but probably not. But sometimes I don’t want roses when I go to the market. I want a nice bouquet of daisies, or maybe some violets. How does God want me to bloom?

Dieting With God

I am beginning to not only pray for success with my diet, but to try to actively incorporate God into my process. This morning I ate a delicious snack and then had some lunch that was not healthy but kept me within my calorie limit roughly. And since then I have honestly not been hungry, and I finished that food at 11:30 in the morning. But yet I still been finding myself tempted to eat some of my favorite chips or to get a little bit of Nutella for dessert or to have an ice cream sandwich or to have some wonderful parmesan peppercorn dip.

My diet does not preclude me from eating any of this. I’m going purely on a calorie-counting diet. Within my alloted calories for the day I can eat anything I want. That way I want I’m eating I’m getting food I really enjoy and killing at least some of my cravings. Believe me, I do not have the self-discipline to stick to any other kind of diet. And I believe that food should be enjoyed so when you are eating you should eat something that you like.

But for the past few weeks, basically since I have not been doing well, I have started to crave food even when I am not hungry. I just get cravings for salt and vinegar or for something sweet or for something cheesy. Just now I was in the kitchen and I went to grab some salt and vinegar chips. But then I remembered. I’m not hungry. I’m not hungry at all. I haven’t eaten in hours, but when I did eat I ate a pretty good amount and it was food I really liked and I don’t need anything else. So what is it I am really searching for? I mean some of it probably is the food. I really like food. Everybody says that but I really mean it. But part of it must be something else. What goes on in my mind or in my soul that makes me want something that you are supposed to partake of when you are feeling famished? Maybe I am famished, in some other way.

I want to start relying on God a little bit more for my diet. Partly of course for the selfish reason that there is no greater power in the universe than God so if God will help me who or what can stand against me? It seems silly to me now that I’ve been trying so hard to do this successfully, and I haven’t even asked the Lord for help except in passing. I haven’t sought Him out when I am failing. But tonight as I stood in the kitchen I said to myself, out loud, you do not need chips. You are not hungry. You need something else. You are not hungry. And then I asked the Lord to help me. Maybe the Lord can fill me. Maybe he will fill me with self-discipline, or help direct my mind to other things that I can think about and do that will leave me with no mental space for preoccupation with food. It is time to come to my God who loves me and wants to help me. If he doesn’t help me then I’ll know that my answer is no and either I’m in some sort of test where I need to do this without any help, although I feel like I’ve already been in that situation, or that maybe He’s telling me that this is the weight that I’m going to be and that I need to be less focused on getting slim again and more focused on something else. God never fails to answer a prayer. It’s just that sometimes the answer is no. But hopefully I won’t get a no. I need to lose weight not only because I want to be able to buy smaller clothes, but for my health.

I believe that God will help me when I need help and will bring me to whatever weight I should be at. If I practice self-discipline and count my calories, and if I lean on God to help me resist temptation, then my diet will continue to be successful. I need to pray more and talk to God when I feel tempted. I need to keep diving in the Word to keep close to Him and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Having lost about 40 lb, I have already come so far and I do not want to lose the hard won progress I have made. I feel like if I do I may never get back to this point again. I need to keep pushing ahead. I need to remember that like it says in 2nd Peter, men are slaves to which has mastered them. Food will not master me.

He Will Take Great Delight in You.

God delights in us. He loves us as His children. Just as we take delight in our children’s first steps, happy faces, school accomplishments, happiness, and talents, so does God with us. No matter how old you are, whether you are on spiritual milk or solid food, God loves you as His sons and daughters. We make  God happy. He likes to watch over us. Our happiness is His happiness, our triumphs His triumphs. Our pain is His pain, our hurt His hurt. He is deeply connected to us. He wants to watch us lead good lives, live out our holy purpose, follow Him, and follow our dreams.

Just my happy thought for the day!

Eternal Life

So many things leave us unsatisfied, disappointed, wanting more. Sometimes that is just the result of greed and avarice. But sometimes it is because things or people really have been disappointing. Sometimes friends disappoint us. Everyone has that ex-friend who is out of their lives for a very good reason. Sometimes even our own families disappoint us. Sometimes our relationships with them leave us wanting more, leave us coping with hurt or disappointment or even rage. Some of them mean to fail us. Some don’t.

God never fails. God never disappoints. His love is unfailing. God is reliable. His Word slakes a thirst that water (or an ice cold Coke!) never could. God does no wrong – to anyone. His ways are righteous. He does things for our good, not to harm us.  When you can’t count on your family or friends or coworkers or whoever to do right by you, you can count on your just God.

Friendships change. People betray us, the drift away from us, they let us down. Family cannot always be counted on.  Sometimes other people, even those we are close to, are bitter, vindictive, controlling, petty, selfish, dishonest,manipulative, and mean spirited. But the one constant in life, in my life, is God. He gives me things I can’t get anywhere else – unconditional love, grace, peace.

A Beautiful Woman

I try to be a nice person. Really, I do. But periodically I bite. Proverbs tells us to add sweetness to our speech and to speak softly. Sometimes I don’t speak very softly. I am loud.

My husband and I almost never fight. But on the occasion we do, I am usually loud and sharp. I need to add more kindness to my words. My speech is not sweet. It is acidic. It eats away at everything, burning it. I ought to have a gentler and quieter spirit, which is beautiful to God. God does not look at a woman and find her beautiful for her clothes and her figure and her makeup. He finds women beautiful who have gentle and quiet spirits. (Not that it isn’t okay to wear nice clothes and makeup.)

He expects us to cultivate what is on the inside, not the outside. He values the gentle, the grateful, the obedient, the modest, the submissive. He wants sweet speech and soft words. How can I practice these things? How can I be a woman after God’s own heart? Here is a list I have come up with. Many of these things I already do – I just don’t do them enough. If you think of anymore, comment or email me.

  1. Never raise my voice. You can not have a gentle and quiet spirit if you are yelling.
  2. Pray regularly to tell God what I am thankful for.
  3. Listen for the Holy Spirit as I write, pray, and think. Follow the voice of the Holy Spirit. Be obedient.
  4.  Try to cover up any low cut dresses with my infinity veils when I go out.  Showing some cleavage is okay when I’m at home, and practically unavoidable at formal events, but for the day to day I should be well covered. It is hard not to buy things that show a lot of cleavage when your breasts are as big as mine, but by wearing the right kind of veil I can buy all kinds of dresses and still be modest.
  5. Obey my husband. When a woman obeys her husband, she obeys God, who has place her husband in authority over her. This doesn’t mean I can’t lobby and petition for what I want and need. I can and I do, rather vigorously at times! But I am my husband’s helpmeet and God has ordered me to submit. So ultimately, my husband has final say.
  6. Be less prideful. God hates a haughty heart. I need to search myself for pride and tear it out. Am I too prideful when I get a pretty dress? When I have a day that I feel I look extra good?  When I add to my book collection? When I learn new things as I study? There is a fine line between appreciating things and feeling good about yourself, versus being prideful. Maybe one way to combat this is to give thanks to God for whatever I am proud of, whether it is a publication credit, a day of good complexion or hair, or my awesome library. And not to focus on it. Take a picture of me or my clothes or my library, and then move on. Be humble and remember that anything good that I have or achieve is through the Grace of my sovereign God. Enjoy the beauty in my life, but remember from whom it comes.
  7. Dive into the Word. A gentler, more peaceful spirit is a natural byproduct of being immersed in the Word.

I have a lot I need to work on. The Christian walk is a never ending journey, a constant refining of gold from dross.