Bloom & Grow

Bloom & Grow

One of my girls thrives on verbal affirmation while the other seeks out lots of snuggles.

It is my absolute favorite to see a smile climb up the cheeks of my older child. She is much less likely to outwardly reveal when something touches her inwardly, so when I see the evidence, I soak it up and store it in my heart. This usually happens at bedtime, when I whisper words of life over her and she thinks it is too dark for me to see her delight.

A few nights ago, I read the girls a library book about the process of planting flowers, watching them grow, and seeing them spread their seeds for new flowers to have a chance to bloom. I turned off the lights and whispered to my word-loving daughter, “You are a beautiful flower. As you blossom and bloom, you spread your seeds so that other flowers have the chance to do the same.”

My favorite smile spread slowly across her face and I knew she would drift to sleep that night feeling loved and having purpose.

I turned to my snuggler to say the same thing, but her response was to giggle, “Mommy! I’m not a flower!” Perhaps she isn’t old enough for metaphors just yet. I made sure to squeeze her tight so that she too would feel affirmed and loved.

I’ve since been thinking quite a bit about flowers and their seeds.

Notice the seed. Before a flower can bloom, its seed must succumb to the process of transformation. When a seed is planted, it goes into the soil never to look the same again. 

It’s not an easy process. The germination (sprouting) of the seed requires the nutrients of the soil, the moisture of water, and just the right amount of sunlight. Each seed has its own needs for life to form.

The hard shell of the seed melts away as the greenery of the plant reaches through the dirt and stretches to find light. In the right environment, the plant will begin to flower and feed the life around it.

New flowers will have the opportunity to bloom and grow as fresh seeds are scattered to the ground.

Did you know that your life resembles that of this flower?

For us to bloom into our greatest beauty, we must die to ourselves. We must succumb to the process of transformation so that our hard shells can melt away. It isn’t easy, is it? Sometimes we feel pressure, maybe a bit of loneliness. It may feel like we are drowning, that we are too hot, or too cold. But when we allow ourselves to submit to the process, we realize that our Gardner knows just what it is that will bring blossoming flowers in our lives.

There will be seasons when we feel the ache of our growth, and also seasons of rest as we wait for the sunshine to warm us again. But the result of these seasons of growth and rest, is the season of beauty. At our peak, we are beautiful flowers offering nourishment to those who come near. Our scent is alluring and our seeds spread with the promise of new life to come.

Whatever season you are currently in, do not forget this truth, my friend:

“You are a beautiful flower. As you blossom and bloom, you spread your seeds so that other flowers have the chance to do the same.”

Stay close to your Gardener. He will give you what you need, when you need it. Remember that the difficult moments will not last forever. New growth is coming.

“…When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.” 1 Corinthians 15:36-38

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Clothing My Imperfections

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I have a thing for skirts.

Skirts have a lovely, feminine, endearing vibe to them. I can dress them up for a more elegant look, or down for errands around town. They also have this delightful ability to hide the little muffin squish that most of my jeans seem to enjoy emphasizing.

I discovered skirts shortly after my second baby was born. My tummy didn’t deflate immediately, which made for some rather awkward inquiries from strangers about whether or not I might be pregnant. Nope, my baby was born a month ago, but thanks for asking!

Whether it was my need for bigger clothes or my need to feel less self-conscious, I went shopping for something that might disguise the tummy pooch. I stumbled across a simple, midi-length skirt that sat at my natural waistline and I have been hooked ever since.

However, as fabulous as skirts are, there is an even better type of clothing!

Check out this verse: “…clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 13:14a

I have been thinking about this idea for DAYS. Clothing ourselves in a new style can be positive and make us feel beautiful. Clothing ourselves in Jesus Christ can be LIFE CHANGING.

Here are some of my thoughts on this:

  • I spent quite a significant amount of time searching for my new style. Similarly, I should be spending quite a significant amount of time searching for Jesus and wrapping myself up in His Word.
  • Clothes are worn all day long. Clothing ourselves with Jesus means He is part of our lives 24/7. Not just Sundays. Not just during our quiet time. All day, everyday.
  • One reason I love skirts so much is because of the way they cover up the “I’ve had babies,” blob. They mask my imperfections. Clothing myself with Jesus goes beyond masking my imperfections. He takes all my blemishes and nakedness and makes them like new. I am a new person in Christ!
  • Clothes have the ability to define who we are. Our clothes can tell someone whether we are successful entrepreneurs, whether we have a fun outing planned, or if it’s a work-around-the-house kind of day. When I am clothed in Christ, my identity is more than my outward appearance. He defines who I am from the inside out, and the evidence is there for all to see.
  • I could spend all day in my jammies if I wanted. I have to make an active choice to get dressed and then choose what to wear – it doesn’t just happen on its own. In the same way, clothing myself in Christ is an active choice. The word “clothe” in our verse is a verb. I must choose daily to put on His presence!

The first step to changing your wardrobe forever, is to get rid of the clothes that don’t work. Romans 13:12 says, “…remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.” He will get rid of all of our stains, but it requires us to bring them to Him first.

If you haven’t yet decided to surrender to Jesus and make Him King over your life, I’d highly encourage you to do so. A relationship with Him will make you see your beauty and value far more than any garment ever could.

I love skirts, but my favorite fashion? Clothing myself in Jesus. He’s just right for every body type.

 

*Photo credit to Alexa Stutts Photography.

Beautiful Crumbs

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We came out of dust. Dust in itself isn’t exactly something I would use to decorate my house. It certainly isn’t beautiful. But God took that dust, and with it formed man. He used something dirty to create something good. (Genesis 2:7)

We came out of clay. Muddy. Lumpy. But just like a potter with a wheel, God took our miss-shaped clay and formed it into something that would reflect His glory. Once useless, but He designated purpose. (Isaiah 64:8)

From ashes to beauty. He is known to bestow crowns, joy, blessings, and a reason to celebrate where before there was nothing but despair, mourning, and grief. (Isaiah 61:3)

From slaves to royalty. When we decide to surrender our lives to Him, making Christ our Lord and Savior, we are automatically adopted as His sons and daughters with full rights of sonship. To us who were once orphaned, He offers an inheritance. (Romans 8:15-17)

God is in the business of taking people who were nobodies and transforming them into somebodies. He takes the lifeless and breathes new life and meaning. What was once ugly becomes magnificent.

God loves to create beauty, and I believe He passed that character trait onto us.

For instance, I like to make cookies.

Sugar cookies specifically. The process is kind of complicated. I start with a list of simple ingredients. Scoops of flour and baking powder get mixed with butter, sugar, eggs, and a touch of flavoring. All of which slowly morph into a clump of dough. The dough is then rolled out and cut into shapes. The best part though, is the icing. I use a runny icing that dries hard and smooth to make art out of those cookies. By the end of the cookie making process, they are embellished with color and design. I often have to convince people that yes, I do want these mini art forms to be eaten and enjoyed. Wouldn’t it be sad if all that hard work went to waste?

Sugar cookies are one way God’s love of beauty is reflected in my life. He brings it out differently in each one of us.

Here are a few ways I’ve seen women around me discover and reproduce beauty in their lives and the lives of those around them:

Home decorating
Raising godly children
Gardening
Making meals for those in need
Photography
Leading a ministry
Hair & Makeup
Writing books, music, blogs, etc
Painting and/or coloring
Pottery
Volunteering in her community
Assisting a mother give birth
Teaching
Words of encouragement
Sewing
Hosting
Providing for her family
Organizing

The list goes on and on and on because one of the ways that God creates beauty is the way He makes us all unique with our own passions and talents. We each have the opportunity to provide a little beauty to the world around us in our own special way.

How do you love to create beauty? What process of creating brings you joy? What hobby, activity, or interest makes your heart skip a beat? Maybe that’s there, because God’s Spirit in you cannot help but create something beautiful through you.

It matters not how unworthy you feel. How messy, broken, or insignificant you perceive yourself to be. God’s favorite way to create beauty is through those who haven’t yet realized just how beautiful they are. Allow Him to do what He does best. Offer Him your crumbs and He cannot help but to make something stunning out of them.

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:3-5)

It’s Okay to Feel Pretty

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I don’t always feel pretty.

There are those troublesome spots that have a tendency to bug me. You know, the squishy tummy that I still like to blame on the kiddos. I am often referred to as “skinny”, but I’m a few sizes up from the stick I once was. Things just don’t quite fit the way they once did. I actually contemplate how my clothes will make my tummy appear before getting dressed, whereas there was once a time in my life I could just throw on a t-shirt and jeans and get away with it.

I could change that with a modification in eating habits and a bit of exercise. I’m still contemplating whether the result will be worth the adjustment.

I’m a nail biter, and a lip chewer, and an eyelash puller. At any given time I either have a complete set of beautiful nails, or full, long eyelashes. Never both at the same time. At the moment, my nails look fantastic. This means I’ve stopped wearing mascara until I can grow some lashes back. I try really hard not to be self-conscious about this.

Within the past five years, I’ve developed these random red splotches on my skin. It’s not a disease, or a rash, or anything contagious. It comes and goes. It doesn’t itch, and when it’s covered up, I forget it’s there. But bathing suit season is coming up, and I’m just hoping no one at the pool thinks I have some sort of leprosy. I kid. I think.

But here is what I know:

  • God, in His infinite creativity, made me and you and the rest of humanity throughout history. Not one of us has been an exact replica of another. God creates beauty and He doesn’t make mistakes. “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true…” (2 Samuel 22:31)
  • He has called me to take care of my body. Not to make it look a certain way, but to honor Him with it. “[Our bodies] were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:13b; NLT)
  • My body will continue to age as I grow older. I won’t be named one of the world’s most beautiful people; my outward appearance does not match the standard of our culture. But the inner beauty that will shine outward as Christ continues to transform my heart… that will be breathtaking. (1 Peter 3:3-5)

So, what exactly does it look like to be beautiful? I’ve recently developed an interest in makeup and choosing clothes that make me feel pretty, but this doesn’t make me any more beautiful in God’s eyes.

I believe that our beauty comes out when we stop focusing on our imperfections and fix our eyes on Him instead. Our identity is found in Jesus Christ alone; not in the evaluations of those around us.

You know what God sees? When God looks at me, and when He looks at you, He sees His child. He sees how the words of others have damaged us and made us doubt His truths. He pleads with us to trust Him and find our value and worth in Him.

If we stop and listen, for even just a moment, we may hear things like…

  • We are loved (Romans 8:35-39)
  • We are royalty (Romans 8:15-17)
  • We have purpose (Proverbs 20:5)
  • We are beautiful (Psalm 45:11)
  • We are a delight (Zephaniah 3:17)

It’s not about whether it’s okay to be beautiful. We don’t actually have a choice in the matter… we already are. God calls me beautiful, so who am I to say otherwise?

Princess Dresses

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This image was created specifically for this post by my dear friend, Brett Redgate.

Lately, when it is time to get dressed in the morning, my 3 1/2 year old insists on wearing a princess dress. I can occasionally convince her to vary her wardrobe slightly, but that usually requires that the outfit has a horse on it somewhere.

Originally, a princess dress was extremely formal and long and sparkly. A.K.A. her flower girl dress. If it wasn’t for trying to stuff the fancy dresses into a carseat buckle, I really wouldn’t mind this so much, but alas, there is no way around the stuffing.

With a little encouragement from me, my daughter has decided to allow other dresses into the princess dress category. Requirements include that it is long, no zippers, must have a skirt, and the skirt portion must be longer than the bodice portion. This is serious business.

To be quite honest, I have not been a huge fan of the princess dress phase. Beginning in pregnancy I was determined my daughter would not be obsessed with the idea of princesses. Have you ever seen a shirt with “Princess” stamped on the front in squiggly letters? I see those and think, “How terrible that we are encouraging little girls to think they can have anything they want whenever they want it! We are turning them into little brats!”

Okay, so that’s harsh, but it was a common thought to enter my head.

But I’ve changed my tune.

You see, there was the day my little 3 1/2 year old said something rather profound. In her matter of fact way, she said, “I am a princess. God is King and He made me, so I am a princess.”

Melt.

You can wear all the princess dresses you want for the rest of eternity, my dear, for you speak truth.

It’s one thing to shout out that you are a princess and go around with a spirit of entitlement. It is quite another to know your identity as a child of the King, and to dress in a way that shows you are proud to be your Daddy’s daughter.

As you go throughout your day, remember who you are. Remember Whose you are. Wear your princess uniform proudly (whatever it may look like). For we, my friends, are all daughters of the King.

We are all princesses.

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (Galatians 3:26-29; NLT)