Do you feel ugly? Stupid? Mean? Ridiculous? Unreasonable? Unwanted? Unloved?
You’re not. I always had a huge problem when people used to say things like, “Everyone is beautiful.” “You’re precious and special.” and “God loves everyone unconditionally.”
I couldn’t accept it. Part of me would nod, and think, of course, sure. But deep down I couldn’t and wouldn’t really believe it about me.
Because, I know me. I know how my forehead still breaks out when I’m stressed even though I’m 28. I know how my mind fills with selfish thoughts when I’m tired. I know how I still hide my candy bar under a book beside my computer so I won’t have to share.
And all that—that isn’t perfect, or precious, particularly special, desirable, reasonable, or loveable.
But motherhood changed something deep within in me, and I’m starting to experience a version of the love God has for us and the kind he would like to have for those around us too.
In my eyes my daughter is amazing, miraculous, and beautiful. She has imperfections that I can see and those around me see them too, but it doesn’t effect my love for her. And even though I know more about her than any person alive, to me she radiates with her own intelligence, her life carrying a precious and special energy that cannot ever be replaced. She is a being in the world that belongs and I could not live the same without her.
Can you imagine that love coming down on us from our God? Because it is the love of the father that He gives to us everyday. Even when we rear-end a car, say angry words, forget to pay the bills, and eat too much chocolate we still have a heavenly father looking down on us with love. He will guide us, shower us with hard truths, and discipline us always for our faults, but over it all is a never-ending love.
The love that makes us all beautiful.
You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Have you ever ran a race? Trained for one? I have and I loved it. You know, I'm not really that competitive either. The fun for me was the motivation, the excitement, and the comradeship as I trained and prepared to reach my goals. It seemed that once I found a group of people all excitedly aiming towards that finish line that I was no longer alone as I worked out and stayed fit. Those few months I felt physically better than I ever have.
Even right now, as I take on the task of writing a novel in month as part of National Novel Writing Month, I have a group of people with the same goals and dreams. We talk about our novels, write each other messages, call each other to check on progress and get each other over obstacles. Once again, this comradeship has gave me motivation and excitement to type closer to my goals. Zoom! Zoom!
Recently, God has powerfully shown me how important fellowship is. This concept I have always shrugged off when it came to my spiritual walk. That is embarrassing to realize, but I always thought that my relationship with God was purely between myself and Him and that involving other people in this aspect of my life was optional. I'm an introvert so this decision was easy to make. I'm refreshed and renewed by time alone so time alone with God made extra sense.
Then, my husband and I came to stay with a friend here in New South Wales. Our friend goes to a tiny church in a very small town and invited us to join him. I enthusiastically agreed. I love the music in church, the worship, the sermons and I figured it would be a nice change from my solitary daily devotionals and listening to KLOVE as I clean the house.
But, my expectations weren't what God had in mind at all. Because when I stepped into that church I experienced something else--something precious and irreplaceable...fellowship. Sitting next to me, greeting my family and I, and singing with heart-felt praise were fellow Christians.
I'd forgotten. With all the traveling we have done and the years of living in isolated areas, I'd forgotten that church is not just the singing and the sermons, church is about comradeship. Being in church is joining a group of people who are excited about God, ready to motivate others, and encourage each other in their walk of faith.
Fellowship. It is so amazingly powerful, so expressively beautiful.
My dad, being a rancher, has a phrase he uses often, "People are herd animals". We are. I'm not saying that we need to be with others. I'm saying that the power of a group of people headed in the same direction is a force to be reckoned with, a force that can change lives.
We only have a few more weeks here and then we'll have to move on and leave this group behind, but the experience has been amazing for me and I know now that having and being part of a church is very important and powerful in our walks with God.
So, from here on out, I intend on seeking out and surrounding myself with those fellow Christians because I know that the motivation and excitement of running a race with others is so much more powerful than ru
Photo by Danielle Walquist Lynch
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
For the second time in her little life, my baby girl got down-right sick this week. It wasn’t much in the world of sick toddlers—just a fever and a runny nose. But its been a long road since those nights of newborn baby and having to wake up every few hours to soothe a child. By the time we were two days and two nights into her little cold I was feeling pretty sorry for her…and really sorry for me.
And, I wasn’t the best human being ever.
I had no energy for smiles, no tolerance for jokes, and no acceptance of anything not being done in such a way that might give me extra work or pain.
Suddenly, my thoughts started to revolve completely around me, my exhaustion, my frustration...it was pretty ridiculous.
I was scrubbing dishes and preparing supper with a killer headache from having forgotten to eat that day when my daughter comes up to me and starts crying while tugging furiously at my pant leg.
My first reaction was Oh, MY! I’M LOOSING IT. I took one of those deep breaths that is usually followed by a scream before I looked down at her and saw her.
Rumpled hair, fever flushed cheeks, a nose rubbed red by multiple tissues, and two dark brown eyes filled with pain.
And I knew, that I wasn’t supposed to be worried about me at all right then. Whatever I needed—love, energy, sleep—whatever I needed to be a good mom and wife while getting through this illness, God had provided it in generous measures.
I scooped her up and apologized while nuzzling her warm little neck and feeling her arms clench about about me.
It just took one prayer and my world righted itself again. God, I know you have given me everything I need to do your will and display your love to those around me. Thank you.
How do we forget? Why does it only take one little thing to throw our world off kilter and feel like He hasn’t provided when He is all we need?
I pray that I learned my lesson and next time when I’m emotionally and physically drained I don’t feel like I have the right to become a monster. God has and will always provide me with enough love to be loving.
I don't know about you, but when I go to the salon to get my haircut I find it difficult submitting my head to the lady with the crazy chopped-up hair-do. Why? Because I think that if I let her start snipping then I'll end up like her.
Its the same thing with adds on TV. If I wear that shirt...I want to look like her. Or, "Surely those pills don't work...look how unhappy he is." And on, and on.
Well, guess what...you are a walking-talking-billboard for the lifestyle you lead.
I heard a story about a lady who became a Christian after ten years of marriage. She found Christ and wanted desperately for her husband to make the same choice. She pushed and pulled. She nagged and bribed. She tried everything to get him to read the Bible, go to church, and be saved.
At each and every attempt she failed miserably. Finally, she stopped trying and started praying. God told her to leave her husband's soul to Him. This lady then started to simply live her Christian life just as God gave it to her. She became happier as she learned to give her worries over to Him and to rely on His strength and guidance.
And then the miracle happened.
One day she was cooking up supper after a long day at work and after having to redirect the poor attitudes of their teenage boys. As she cooked she hummed one of her favorite hymns, praying for her family, and finding peace in the quiet of her little kitchen. "Wow." She heard her husband whisper and looked up to see him watching her. "I don't know how you do it." She stopped and stared at him and said, "Me neither, but I'm thankful."
That Sunday her husband actually drove the family to church. Later he confessed that he'd been watching her for years. He'd thought the whole "being saved" thing was a joke. He said he didn't understand why his wife kept insisting that Christ was wonderful and powerful and life changing. All he saw was an unhappy nagging wife with nothing about the Christian life that seemed worth adopting. But when she'd let it go and allowed God's love and peace to reign, she became positive advertisement for the Christian lifestyle.
I love her story. I think of her and tell myself, "Remember, they're watching.
Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov
Lora is a Christian writer, wife, and mother who travels the world with her husband, living and working on ranches.