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.

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All or Nothing

All or Nothing

You require nothing, yet ask for everything.

On our own we are unable. We cannot muster up salvation with human hands. The only work You require is to simply believe. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Human effort accomplishes nothing. We could wear ourselves out for the trying, the working, the earning of this free gift you offer. Yet, anyone who believes has eternal life.1 It is not reserved for the holy, the good, the kind, the successful, the perfect ones. It is intended for the broken, the needy, the searching, the desperate ones.2

So nothing is required, but You ask for everything.

With this belief comes surrender. To believe in You is to set aside our preconceived notions of what our hearts desire, for our hearts are no longer our own. They belong to You. Those previous desires melt away as our souls cannot get enough of You. We want what You want. With our belief in You, a transformation occurs.3 We cannot think the same way anymore, even if we tried. For we have seen something better, something true, something real. We have new-found purpose and meaning and now nothing else matters except to accomplish Your will. It is an undoing as our bodies turn inside out. We are forever changed, a new creation you might say.4

It’s the sort of process that isn’t really noticeable all of the time. We have massive growth spurts, but most of the lasting growth happens with consistent pruning over time. It doesn’t hurt, really, for we see the flowers blooming as a result.5 This gradual, continued effort of giving everything to the One who requires nothing turns us into more than we could have ever hoped by our own striving. We aren’t the same anymore. One day, we look in the mirror and hardly even make out those old details of who we used to be. Did that person really exist? She did. And we realize every bit of the process was worth it. And then we wonder…if He has brought me this far, where will He take me next?6

Sometimes, I wish the pruning was a bit more immediate. Can’t You just lob off this whole branch? Is it really worth saving? But to You, it is. And deep down I know this slow, steady process of cyclical surrender and growth allows me to move forward, whereas I might topple over if I tried to make it all happen at once.

Your way is better than mine.7 I see that again. You are not slow, but patient.8 You love the process as much as You love the result.

So here I am again. Surrendering. Believing. This is all You require. It isn’t much, but it is everything. I don’t want my everything anymore. I want Yours.

 

Because You Prayed

Because You Prayed

When I started “waking up” out of my postpartum depression, I turned to the Psalms.

I had been struggling with the concept of prayer and feeling like God wasn’t listening to my desperate pleas. Upon diving into the Psalms, I discovered that King David had quite the opposite view:

  • “The Lord will answer when I call to him.” 4:3
  • “I bring my requests to [God] and wait expectantly.” 5:3
  • “The Lord will answer my prayer.” 6:9

I should have been encouraged, but I wasn’t at first. Of COURSE God would answer David’s prayers. Wasn’t he known as a man after God’s own heart? Surely he had some sort of golden ticket when it came to prayer.

But these sorts of statements are littered throughout the Psalms… even when David hadn’t acted quite like the golden child. Even after he had committed adultery and subsequently, murder, in an attempt to cover up his actions. Even then, he still knew God not only heard his prayers, but He would answer them:

“Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry. I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.” Psalm 86:6-7

God answered David’s prayers time and time again. He gave battle strategies, rescued David in times of danger, forgave him and comforted him when he was at his worst. God blessed David. 

David wasn’t the only one who saw his prayers answered. Here are just a few more examples:

  • In the heat of battle, Joshua sought God for help. “…in front of all the people of Israel” he prayed a bold prayer for the sun and moon to stand still. God answered this request and the nation of Israel was victorious. Joshua 10:12-14
  • King Hezekiah was threatened by the king of Assyria. In short, Israel was being taunted and God was being mocked by this outsider who believed quite highly in himself. King Hezekiah responded by desperately praying for God to intervene. God’s response? “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you prayed…” God Himself protected and defended the city! Isaiah 37:21-37
  • Elijah put his reputation on the line when he asked God to do what Baal could not: create a fire for a sacrifice out of thin air. Even though the alter had been drenched in water, “immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood the stones, and the dust. it even licked up all the water in the trench!” 1 Kings 18:38
  • Daniel pleaded on behalf of his people while they were in exile in Babylon. In response, God sent an angel with a message: “The moment you began praying, a command was given.” Daniel 9:23 

There are so many more examples in the Bible of God hearing and answering prayers. What I love about these particular moments is the glaring fact that all of these things happened as a result of the prayer itself. There cannot be an answer if we do not make the request in the first place.

God hears our prayers. Don’t give up praying even when it feels like He isn’t listening. Keep praying even when it doesn’t make sense. 

  • What battles could be won…
  • What lives could be changed…
  • What mountains could fall…
  • What miracles could happen…

…because you prayed?

“I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.” Psalm 17:6

Salty

Salty

My family loves to tell the story of the brownies. I was maybe 12 at the time, don’t quite remember, but I got the notion that I wanted to make some brownies. We had a cookbook for kids, so I pulled that out and set to task. I got to the portion about the salt and began measuring out the 1/4 cup the recipe called for.

Read that last line again.

Yup, 1/4 of a cup of salt. Somehow I read “teaspoon” as “cup”. It seemed like a lot of salt to me, but I was just following directions. My sister came for a taste of the batter and immediately recognized my mistake. She tried to convince me to start over, but I was determined my brownies would turn out deliciously.

After dinner, my dad was quite eager to eat a brownie. He took a gigantic bite only to spit it right back out with a rather unpleasant face. Ever since that day, I’ve skipped the part about the salt entirely when baking.

In a more recent story, I was playing with new recipes for my crockpot. My husband and I were returning home from the gym, quite hungry, and were welcomed by the savory aroma of beef ready to be eaten. We grabbed our plates and sat down at the table, eager to partake of what was destined to be a new favorite meal. 

Unfortunately, the flavor was there in scent only, and absent in taste. Our meal needed a bit more seasoning. The evident lack of salt resulted in a lack of enthusiasm as we disappointedly ate our food.

When used poorly, salt can be either overwhelming or underwhelming. However, when used in the right circumstances, and in appropriate amounts, salt can bring out the flavor in our food and make it really quite extraordinary.

We have a great responsibility, you and I, because the Bible says that as Christians, we are to be “the salt of the earth.” Our lives, when infused by the Holy Spirit, are intended to bring out the beauty of this world, leaving an impression of something rather extraordinary.

Did you know that the use of salt extends beyond flavor? It can be used as a preservative, a cleaning agent, a protectant against insects, even a conditioner. Salt has great value.

You have great value. God has placed within you meaning and purpose. He has infused you with a personality, a flavor, unique to you. When mixed with the skills He has gifted you, something quite lovely to behold is formed. No one else has these combinations but you. Ultimately, He has placed these things within you so that you can use your life to bring glory and honor to His Name. You have a very important role in building His Kingdom that no other person can fill.

You are salty. Stay connected to the One who brings you this saltiness and you will make a difference.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.” (Matthew 5:13a; MSG)

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)