What is Beauty?

The other day, my sister wanted someone to practice her photography skills on, so she popped into my room and asked if I would come be her “model”. ūüėÄ I wasn’t exactly feeling up to it, but my mom said something to the extent, “You should go and help her out.” So I was like, okay, sure. It’ll probably end up being fun.

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I got ready. Washed my hair. Put on a little make-up. Tried on an outfit that, in my mind, I imagined would look perfect. Well, when I stood in front of the mirror, the outfit on me, it didn’t look so perfect after all.

I tried on a few different variations, but nothing looked good. A headache began to pulse behind my eyes and my stomach knotted … Thoughts filtering into my mind: You never look good.

Finally I changed back into the original outfit and told myself, You know what, it doesn’t matter. This isn’t about me anyway. And beauty, or lack of it, isn’t who I am.¬†I grabbed my Bible and headed outside with my sister into the crisp, cold air. Let’s highlight something else about me. Those precious moments when I stop worrying about my outward appearance and delight in being my King’s child.

I did enjoy the photo shoot … besides being cold! :p

And I want to tell you all who struggle with insecurity like me: Outward beauty truly is fading and subjective. But a woman who delights in the Lord, a rare beauty illuminates from her.

And part of delighting in the Lord, I feel, is saying confidently to your Creator and for your own heart to hear: I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

And: “How mighty and glorious You are to have made me pure and whole! And how good You are, the way You keep sanctifying and beautifying me on the inside.”

Philippians 1:6

6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 9:14

14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

1 Corinthians 6:11

11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

See, I don’t think the Father is pleased when we tear ourselves down constantly. Insulting His creation.

Genesis 1:27

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

We’re living after the Fall, and there is no longer perfection, so we need to stop grasping for it.

After photo shoots, I might find some pictures with just the right lighting and where I’m standing at just the right angle, and I determine that I might look kinda pretty. But I usually find other pictures that make me feel bad about myself. I see all my flaws and wonder anxiously if this is what people see me like everyday. What are they secretly thinking about me if I look like that?

There have been times I’ve wanted to hide myself because I felt my flaws made me unacceptable.

But this is ridiculous. I have to continually reject that lie. Why would I mock my Creator’s design? How does He feel when I listen to people’s opinions rather than His voice of love, and this cultivates an ungrateful heart within me? Why would I make everything about me and my fear, and hide myself away from God’s love and sharing that love with others?

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Dear women, beauty is not all that important.

But I do think every woman innately wants to feel beautiful and treasured, so I just want to tell you that¬†beauty is subjective and people have different perspectives. Maybe there have been some people who’ve said some hurtful things about your appearance … but I can almost guarantee there are also others who find you beautiful.

Song of Solomon 4:7

7 You are altogether beautiful, my love;
    there is no flaw in you.

And, I’ve told myself, even if every person thinks I’m kind of ugly and awkward, but my eternal Father and Savior finds me beautiful, that’s quite enough.

The only One who’s opinion really matters says: I made you and it is good.

Flaws and all, I am His.

His adopted daughter. Cherished. Secure. Loved.

1 Peter 3:3-4

3¬†Do not let your adornment be merely outward‚ÄĒarranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel‚ÄĒ 4¬†rather¬†let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible¬†beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

My identity and confidence don’t come from others opinion of me. They’re just people.

My God and King, it’s His voice I will listen to. And in His presence, I’ve never felt Him say: you’re ugly. I’ve never felt Him turn His face away from my flaws. Instead, I picture His gentle hands forming everything about me in my mother’s womb. I picture His strong arms always open to me – welcoming me in. His smile brilliant, His eyes filled with bottomless love.

I’m so complete and beautiful in Him.

And even when I’m old and shriveled up. Thousands of wrinkles, coarse gray hair, and body sagging – all the earthly definition of beauty fading away before my eyes – I will still be so complete and beautiful in Him. As I’m His and His alone.

Truly, if you chase outward beauty, you will never be satisfied. You will never feel beautiful enough. There will always be a girl that you see as better than yourself. If you chase popularity, charm, and wittiness, you will always come up feeling empty. You will never be quite celebrated enough. Have enough.

These things are fleeting. Deceptive. Empty. It can all be tactics Satan uses to lead us astray.

Chase Christ. He will satisfy. His Word says that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised! So let’s put more stock in character and faith than a gorgeous face & body and a witty mind.

1 Samuel 16:7

For¬†the Lord does not¬†see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the¬†Lord looks at the heart.‚ÄĚ

Beauty and charm are ultimately ugly without Christ. It will come out that this kind of woman is living only for herself. And you will see the selfish way she chases the high. The arrogant way she pushes others aside. The cruel way she tramples people to elevate herself.

Proverbs 11:22

22 As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout,
So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.

That’s when you see that beautiful suddenly isn’t beautiful anymore.

But what about a woman who fears God? A woman who genuinely follows the Lord Jesus. Who wholeheartedly believes God’s love for her and loves Him. A woman with a heart for people, who sincerely cares for them. A woman passionate about doing what God has called her to. A joyful, radiant woman. A woman who cares for herself and her household. Who hungers for the Word. Who delights in being with Jesus in prayer. A woman who walks in confidence not found in herself. A woman comfortable in God’s design of her femininity. A woman who laughs a lot, complains seldom, and doesn’t look to you for validation.

Now that’s a woman of lasting beauty! That’s a woman who shall be praised. That’s a woman we should admire.

So, dear sister, I want to tell you that you’re beautiful. But don’t chase perfection in outward beauty, chase perfection in Christ.

That’s beautiful.

May we women grow in this beauty together! ‚̧

Proverbs 31:30

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

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The Danger of Shame

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Dear sisters in Christ, today I want to talk to you about the dangers of shame.

Shame is something that a lot of you may carry. And it’s something that needs to be dealt with, lest it destroy you.

I think shame is oftentimes, if not always, Satan’s tool. Not God’s.

Shame says: You are wrong. Not: You’ve done wrong.

Shame is an identity.

An identity that suffocates you and leads you into darkness and confusion.

You ¬†might feel shame because of “really bad” sins in your past.

You might feel shame because of something done to you.

You might feel shame because of emotional or verbal abuse.

You might feel shame simply because your personality, perspective, or circumstances make you more vulnerable to it than others.

But the truth is, as a daughter of God, shame should not be an identity you claim. Yes, there are times of guilt, remorse, conviction, and repentance.

Psalm 51:17

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart‚ÄĒ
These, O God, You will not despise.

But when you can hardly look at or think about yourself without being drenched in shame, then you are embracing a  lie straight from the mouth of the Evil One.

Because, if you are a daughter of God, you are redeemed. Made pure. And as a human being, you are made in the image of God!

Yes, mankind chose sin and perverted perfection. But if you trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then when God looks at you, He sees Jesus. As He accepts Jesus, He accepts you in Jesus. As He loves Jesus, He loves you in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:3-6

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

Don’t hold onto shame.

It will pollute you, your relationships, and your life.

Particularly when it comes to romantic relationships, shame can be very dangerous.

A girl might accept all kinds of nonsense from a man because she doesn’t believe that she, personally, could get any better treatment.

She might participate in sin because her boyfriend communicates that she’s worth no more, and she accepts that because of her identity of shame.

She might settle for a guy who abuses her. Emotionally. Verbally. Even physically.

She might stay with a guy who is unstable or self-absorbed because, well, at least he wants her and doesn’t seem to care that she’s this, this, and this.

I mean, who could want a messed-up, stupid, failure of a woman like herself? If this guy will actually take her, she better make this relationship work.

A Christian girl might imagine herself unworthy of a godly man, for whatever reason. Therefore, instead of waiting for a man who will lovingly lead her toward Christ, pursue God with her, and truly strive to live out marriage as the Bible commands, she will run headlong into the first relationship that, unbelievably, comes her way.

But, my precious sisters, that is not how you follow Christ.

God is not pleased when your boyfriend (or any person) treats you badly, carelessly, or with selfish intent. God calls people to love you as He loves you.

John 13:34

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

God is not pleased when you make ungodly, unBiblical, insensible, foolish, harmful, careless, or hasty decisions based on your self-claimed identity of shame and your idea that you couldn’t possibly have a good and beautiful marriage like godly people get.

God makes people godly.

Romans 8:1-4

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Breathe in His grace. Sit at His feet. See yourself as He sees you to be. Breathe out His love. And accept every good and undeserved gift He gives. Rejoice and glorify Him through that gift.

No, none of us deserve an awesome spouse – because we aren’t awesome.

But God is awesome.

And He chose you. He wants you. He loves you.

He has a specific plan for your life. Things like love. Joy. Peace. Purpose. Ministries. Relationships. Fellowship. Marriage. Children. Jobs. Mission Work. Education. Passions and hobbies …

He works through any and all these things to glorify Himself in and through your life, and draw you and others ever closer to Himself.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

You may not feel you should get a godly spouse. That a godly man would want you. But if God wants to give you marriage, then by all means, accept that amazingly godly man and shout praises to your Father in heaven. He is awesome!

Let Him wash away the shame.

When you are His, washed clean by the powerful blood of Christ Jesus, you are CLEAN. All clean. No more shame, sweet girl. Bask in God’s love and let God’s love sanctify and change you.

You may have some more growing to do before you are ready to partner with and serve alongside a godly man.

But rest assured, if God is leading your heart toward marriage, He would have you choose a godly man.

Don’t settle for a man who will pull you away from Christ, or even sit back and watch as you strive for faith. Wait for a man who will push you toward God. Who will run the race with you. Who will worship God wholeheartedly with you.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.

Wait for a man who will see you as God sees you.

Beloved.

I Can’t Change!

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As Christians, we are called to a life of love. Of serving. Of kindness. Of truth. Of giving of ourselves, of our gifts and time, and thinking of others before ourselves.

If you’re anything like me, this can feel like a heavy burden on your shoulders.

How on earth am I supposed to live this all out in the mundane, trial-riddled, day-to-day life? How can I possibly love like Jesus Christ loves?

We may have all these grand, godly ideas and nice-sounding words to share, but when it actually comes down to loving sacrificially or serving when it gets in the way of our own plans, we feel selfishness and resistance creeping in.

Maybe you worry that you’re not a good enough Christian.

You don’t read God’s Word very often.

You seldom pray.

You don’t feel a relationship with God like some of your family and Christian friends do.

You don’t feel like loving and serving other.

Or forgiving imperfect people.

How do we come nearer to God? How do we grow in godliness? How do we love like Jesus did?

I believe the answer is profoundly simple.

Surrender.

I don’t mean surrender like give up.

I mean surrender like give your life to God.

Surrender your heart, your life, your control, your everything to Christ.

Galatians 2:20-21

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Matthew 11:28-30

28¬†Come to¬†Me, all¬†you¬†who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.¬†29¬†Take My yoke upon you¬†and learn from Me, for I am¬†gentle and¬†lowly in heart,¬†and you will find rest for your souls.¬†30¬†For My yoke¬†is¬†easy and My burden is light.‚ÄĚ

James 4:7

7 Therefore submit to God.

And let Him change you.

Let Him work in you.

Let Him love through you.

Let Him grow a genuine delight for Him in you.

You see, we are human. We are imperfect. And no amount of striving is going to help us hit the mark. Reach the goal.

That’s why we need Jesus Christ. To forgive our sins – and to radically change our lives for His glory and our good. And all people’s good.

John 15:3-8

3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Still, on earth we will never hit perfection.

Philippians 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

But if we surrender our lives to Christ and wholeheartedly follow His lead, He will do His work in and through us. He will bring what no one else can.

Change.

You will find yourself growing. And being sanctified. And hungering for God’s Word. And sincerely seeing – and loving – other people.

2 Timothy 1:7

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

When you surrender, sometimes you will feel God prompting you to spend some time in His Word instead of watching that movie.

(This is not to say that we can’t watch movies. But oftentimes we’re consuming massive amounts of entertainment at the expense of quiet time spent with the Lord.)

You may be reluctant, but you obey because you’ve surrendered, and you know you are loved by God. He knows what’s best for you. You want to love Him back. You want a more intimate relationship with Him.

But, you know, as you surrender and spend more and more time in God’s presence – in His Word and prayer – it becomes a delight.

Psalm 16:11

11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Don’t take my word for it. See for yourselves. Experience it for yourselves, my friend.

Are you tired of not feeling good enough? Not measuring up to your own standards? Or other’s standards? Are you sick of living selfishly? Never feeling satisfied?

Surrender. And seek.

You know when I started seeing a change in my own character and behavior?

When I surrendered.

Jeremiah 10:23

23 O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;
It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

When I said: Lord, I’m not good enough! I’m not reading my Bible enough or getting up early to pray. I’m trying to control everything. But I don’t have a job, I don’t have my life together, I’m not loving people well; I’m failing at everything! I’m insecure, I’m angry, I’m holding onto pain, I’m anxious, I’m afraid, I’m hopeless. But … but you love me anyway. You call me “daughter”. You want me.

I found peace in His presence. I felt whole and secure and desired. Desired by God! I started hungering after and delighting in His Word for perhaps the first time ever. I found the strength and motivation to start serving people more. I found my heart softening toward people I was struggling with. I became passionate in my prayers.

1 John 4:16-19

16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

I’m still a work-in-progress. I still have much to learn and much growing to do. And I battle shame and hopelessness still, at times. But I fight it. Because my identity is found in Christ Jesus, and it is His strength which justifies and sanctifies me.

I see Christ changing me. And that is precious and awe-inspiring.

He will never fail me.

Riley Clemmons – You First

I’m an INFJ – Embracing Your God-Given Personality

My fellow bloggers, writers, and avid readers, shall we talk about our quiet, deep-feeling, word-loving personality. Or is it just mine? ūüėČ

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But really, I’ve noticed a lot of writers/bloggers are introverts. I myself am an INFJ according to the tests I’ve done. The advocate, the defender, or the guardian. Supposedly, people with INFJ personalities are “rare”. I don’t know if I quite believe it, but I will admit that I do often feel like no one understands me.

I’m¬†different.

No one else is quite like me.

I get lonely.

I feel crazy.

I have the fear, deep down, that I’ll never quite¬†belong¬†anywhere.

I can share a lot, but I never really,¬†really¬†share my heart because I’m afraid no one would understand.

For a girl who longs for deep, intimate connections and community, it’s a terrible thing to feel so separate from other people.

I think the loneliness and fear have driven me to try to understand myself. Then I would feel guilty for researching “myself”‚ÄĒlike I’m enamored with me, haha.

But, actually, I’ve heard that INFJ’s just have a hunger to understand their personality and the personalities of others. I want to know why I feel, react, and think certain ways. I want to understand why other people do what they do and say what they say.

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And when I read things about the INFJ personality and think,¬†Hey, that’s what I do. Maybe that’s why I behave this way and feel such-and-such‚ÄĒthen I feel more okay with being me.

And you know what? It¬†IS¬†okay that I’m me! It’s more than okay.

It’s perfect.

God, in His infinite wisdom, created me just the way I am with exactly the personality I have. He made me introverted, bookish, relational, a dreamer, a deep thinker, a writer, and a deep feeler. He created me this way, and therefore He understands me, even when I think nobody does. Even when I can’t understand myself.

Psalm 139:1-6 & 13-16

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Genesis 1:26-28

26¬†Then God said, ‚ÄúLet Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all¬†the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.‚Ä̬†27¬†So God created man in His¬†own¬†image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.¬†28¬†Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‚ÄúBe fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.‚ÄĚ

1 Corinthians 13:12

Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord,

***

When I do research and study my personality and just be myself, I think it is a very good thing. Because isn’t it most honoring to the Creator when I embrace who He made me to be? When I glorify Him with the specific and unique gifts, abilities, talents, and personality He gave me?

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So … what does it mean to be an¬†INFJ?

Here are a few quotes from¬†INFJ (“The Advocate”) of 16Personalities:

‚ÄúINFJs indeed share a unique combination of traits: though soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in.‚Ä̬†(Introduction)

‚ÄúINFJs find it easy to make connections with others, and have a talent for warm, sensitive language, speaking in human terms, rather than with pure logic and fact. It makes sense that their friends and colleagues will come to think of them as quiet Extraverted types, but they would all do well to remember that INFJs need time alone to decompress and recharge, and to not become too alarmed when they suddenly withdraw.‚Ä̬†(Introduction)

‚ÄúThis becomes especially apparent when INFJs find themselves up against conflict and criticism ‚Äď their sensitivity forces them to do everything they can to evade these seemingly personal attacks, but when the circumstances are unavoidable, they can fight back in highly irrational, unhelpful ways.‚Ä̬†(Introduction)

‚ÄúINFJs like to know that they are taking concrete steps towards their goals, and if routine tasks feel like they are getting in the way, or worse yet, there is no goal at all, they will feel restless and disappointed.‚Ä̬†(Strengths and Weaknesses)

‚ÄúWhen it comes to romantic relationships, INFJs take the process of finding a partner seriously. Not ones for casual encounters, people with the INFJ personality type instead look for depth and meaning in their relationships. INFJs will take the time necessary to find someone they truly connect with‚Ä̬†(Romantic Relationships)

‚ÄúThere is a running theme with INFJs, and that is a yearning for authenticity and sincerity ‚Äď in their activities, their romantic relationships, and their friendships. … Rather, INFJs seek out people who share their passions, interests and ideologies, people with whom they can explore philosophies and subjects that they believe are truly meaningful.‚Ä̬†(Friends)

‚ÄúFirst and foremost, INFJs need to find meaning in their work, to know that they are helping and connecting with people‚Ä̬†(Career Paths)

‚ÄúINFJs often pursue expressive careers such as writing, elegant communicators that they are, and author many popular blogs, stories and screenplays. Music, photography, design and art are viable options too, and they all can focus on deeper themes of personal growth, morality and spirituality.‚Ä̬†(Career Paths)

Quotes and Stuff from my INFJ Pinterest Board (these were all found on Pinterest):

Being an introvert doesn’t always mean we’re shy, insecure, can’t talk, timid, scared of our own shadow, and friendless.

It may mean we’re quiet, socially-awkward (but not socially-inept), cautious, very sensitive, and a little different.

What I’m trying to say is: you don’t have to change my personality in order for me to be who I need to be and do what I need to do.

I believe why I was insecure as a person is not because that’s how I was made, but rather because I was afraid to be who I was truly made to be.

Even because many people made me feel like I had to change my personality in order to be right.

Why are you so quiet? {Um … ? I’ve been talking, haven’t I? I enjoy listening also, you know. Or, I just don’t have much that I feel needs to be said right now.}

Why don’t you talk more? {Well, I try, but you either interrupt, talk over me, stare blankly in response, or don’t notice I spoke up at all.}

Why are you always so sad? {I’m not! I’m just not as bubbly and expressive and loud as you are. That’s allowed, isn’t it?}

You’re turning red. {*wants to melt into the ground* I KNOW quite well that I’m blushing … can you please just act normal and move on with the conversation? Please?}

SHE TALKED! YOU CAN TALK?? {Do you think I’m weird? Are you not accepting me? *freaks out and overthinks everything* Now I feel stupid and probably won’t say anything else for the rest of the evening.}¬†

Everyone HAS to participate! {Even if I’m quaking in terror and feel on the verge of passing out?? HAVE MERCY!}

You’re too quiet; you need to talk louder. {I feel like I’m shouting! *feels desperate*}

Shy people are just really selfish. {*heart shrivels up inside chest*}

Desperately shy, I battled headaches and stomachaches every time I went to youth group, Bible study, casual Ultimate Frisbee games, a friend’s house, church, etc., etc., year after year after year (even though I liked these things).

Critically insecure, I kept silent during Bible study (which I loved … filled with people I really liked) even when my mind and heart had thoughts to offer and questions to pose.

Occasionally, I was filled with such passion and boldness, and actually spoke up.

But most times, I felt so wrong and uncertain of being myself that I kept quiet when I wanted to speak. I hung back when I wanted to join. I blushed painfully when people talked to and tried to involve me (though I yearned for deep connection!). I felt guilt over silly things. I hid parts of my heart even from my closest friends and family.

Being an INFJ didn’t make me that way. But perhaps because the INFJ personality isn’t as common as some, I had a hard time accepting myself.

I called myself stupid. A failure. Ugly. Fat. Unwanted. Dumb. Unable. Too awkward. Not good enough. Unacceptable.

Idiot. You idiot! I’m so sick of you.

That’s what I said to myself. I bought into the Enemy’s lies and I fed them to myself.

And it held me back from doing all that God has called me to. It kept me from all that God wanted to give me. It kept me from being fully who God created me to be.

I was very, very insecure, and shy, and fearful.

Even up until this last year of 2017, I struggled. (And it will be something I have to continue fighting, I’m sure!) For a large part of my life, I didn’t realize how insecure I truly was. This past fall, I came face to face with what I really thought of myself.

I was sick of being me because, deep down, I thought of myself as stupid and not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not out-going enough. Not doing enough. Not confident and independent enough. Not smart enough.

I didn’t truly grasp my real worth in Christ, and so I looked to other people to define my worth. If they accepted me, I would feel okay with myself. If they rejected me, I told myself I was stupid. If someone said something that might have been questioning my worth, I internally freaked out and fell apart because I felt I had no worth apart from their validation.

I sort of kept this all inside, and it affected me in ways I didn’t realize.

I’m changing now.

But I’m not becoming less of an introvert ‚Äď my personality is not becoming less INFJ. I’m not becoming less of a deep thinker and deep feeler. I’m still quiet, and sensitive, and very self-aware.

I’m blossoming as an INFJ, because I cried out to the Lord with all my heart and He filled me with His love. I believe He says: I WANT YOU. I LOVE YOU. I CREATED YOU. I DELIGHT IN YOU. I CHOSE YOU.¬†Now I know that I can embrace who I am. Because that’s exactly who God fearfully and wonderfully made me to be.

I claim my worth in Christ.

If anyone tries to tell me I’m less-than, I say: Go talk to my Father. No one can tell me what my value is except for Him. And He says I was worth it all.

To add to that incredible reality, He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Just as I am.

He can use my quietness, my deep feelings, my sensitivity, my self-awareness, my love of writing, my social awkwardness, my passion, my strong opinions in powerful ways. He can use me in huge ways, even when I’m still rather terrified to speak in front of crowds, but can chatter passionately to small, intimate groups.

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Listen …

WE ARE ALL UNIQUE.

And that is radiantly beautiful! In appearance, in personality, in gifts, in talents, in passions, in dreams, in strengths, we are different. And that is exactly how it’s supposed to be.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

12¬†For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also¬†is¬†Christ.¬†13¬†For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body‚ÄĒwhether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free‚ÄĒand have all been made to drink into¬†one Spirit.¬†14¬†For in fact the body is not one member but many.

Instead of trying to change each other, why not complement and enhance and edify and uplift one another?

1 Corinthians 12:15-31

15¬†If the foot should say, ‚ÄúBecause I am not a hand, I am not of the body,‚ÄĚ is it therefore not of the body?¬†16¬†And if the ear should say, ‚ÄúBecause I am not an eye, I am not of the body,‚ÄĚ is it therefore not of the body?¬†17¬†If the whole body¬†were¬†an eye, where¬†would be¬†the hearing? If the whole¬†were¬†hearing, where¬†would be¬†the smelling?¬†18¬†But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.¬†19¬†And if they were all one member, where¬†would¬†the body¬†be?

20¬†But now indeed¬†there are¬†many members, yet one body.¬†21¬†And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‚ÄúI have no need of you‚ÄĚ; nor again the head to the feet, ‚ÄúI have no need of you.‚Ä̬†22¬†No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.¬†23¬†And those¬†members¬†of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable¬†parts¬†have greater modesty,¬†24¬†but our presentable¬†parts¬†have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that¬†part¬†which lacks it,¬†25¬†that there should be no schism in the body, but¬†that¬†the members should have the same care for one another.¬†26¬†And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with¬†it;¬†or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with¬†it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

The next chapter in 1 Corinthians goes on to talk about how we are nothing without love.

You may never find me laughing and joking in front of huge crowds. But as I grow in security in Christ’s love for me, I find the courage and ability to share deeply from my heart with individuals, be vulnerable, pray over friends in need, and lead small Bible study groups ‚Äď as has always been my desire!

It is God who changes my heart and grows me, and uses my personality for His glory and our good. He created me and He knows me. And when I know He accepts and wants me, I can walk forth in joy and security and boldness and love, even as an INFJ! ūüėČ

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¬†I used to be frightened that my physical appearance would change people’s opinion of me ‚Äď I’m not beautiful enough. I used to be terrified to go places ‚Äď I’m probably not wanted or welcome.

But, slowly, slowly, I’m throwing that mindset off.

God loves me. God wants me.

He made me, so who are you to say there’s a problem with what He’s created? I am His child and the world is His, so I have as much a right to be here as anyone else. (I’m okay. Do you hear that, heart of mine? Stop seizing up in my chest and let me breathe and walk normally!)

I realize that there are, indeed, people in the world who do truly love and want me. They don’t care if my hair is a bit messy, my clothes aren’t the latest style, I have zits on my face, or I’ve gained a few pounds. They look at me and they see me‚ÄĒmy heart‚ÄĒwho they adore.

This is so beautiful!

I have a hard time claiming people’s love for myself, but I speak it because there are people who have proven their love for me. And they are worthy of my trust.

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So. BE YOU. Don’t mock or refuse to accept God’s beautiful design and creativity. Be who the wise Creator made you to be. And know you are richly and completely loved. By your Heavenly Father. And, most likely, by many people … You’ve just blinded yourself to their affection for you.

God is good. His design is good. His creation is good.

DO YOU HAVE THE INFJ PERSONALITY? CAN YOU RELATE? WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

ARE YOU A DIFFERENT PERSONALITY? WHAT ARE SOME THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF THAT YOU FEEL ARE MISUNDERSTOOD? TELL ME SOME UNIQUE THINGS ABOUT YOU AND HOW GOD HAS USED THEM!

Paths and Provisions

Good morning, beautiful readers!

I’m going to share a little bit of my heart with you today. To be honest, this isn’t the easiest thing to share. It’s something that’s caused me no small amount of shame, anxiety, insecurity, and troubled thoughts. But it’s been on my mind a lot lately … so I thought perhaps it was God prompting me to share.

Philippians 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

This post is going to be about work, money, jobs, independence, responsibility, and trusting God to provide. That sort of thing.

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I never was very career-minded. In fact, I tend to be a dreamer ‚Äď I believe it’s part of my personality as an INFJ. From a young age, I loved reading and writing‚ÄĒall things books, really‚ÄĒand by ten-years-old, decided that I wanted to be a published author when I grew up. So I pursued writing. I wrote all the time. I filled up numerous journals and notebooks, and even took to typing out my stories and thoughts on the computer. I had stacks and stacks of handwritten stories and many documents saved onto the computer.

I did some babysitting here and there once I turned twelve. At around fifteen-years-old, I got a sort-of summer nanny job. Once I week I took care of a little baby (perhaps six months old?) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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It was around that time that my mom, my siblings, and I started cleaning our church once a week. We did that for a couple years.

At sixteen, I got my first “real” job. It was at Dairy Queen. They needed good workers, someone from my youth group recommended me, and so I was like, “Sure, why not? It’s probably a good time to start working part-time.” I hadn’t been actively searching for a job, but I was eager enough to accept the position.

Working at a fast-food restaurant turned out to be a rather intimidating experience for shy, insecure, introverted, teenage me. My voice was always too soft, even though I felt like I was shouting. All the details I was expected to learn overwhelmed me (though I actually caught on quickly enough). I felt uncomfortable wearing the required black slacks and stuffing my thick, waist-length hair up beneath a baseball cap. But, I did learn some things! And for that, I am thankful. It wasn’t horrible, but it was very stressful for me. Three mornings a week I skipped breakfast (because my stomach hurt from anxiety/stress) and hurried off to work. Around lunch time, I would start feeling tired and dragging, so I’d reluctantly drink a glass of soda (I’m kind of a health nut, so I disliked the idea of drinking a sugary drink three times a week!). Then I’d get home, probably eat a late lunch, and sit down and put my feet up because my legs and feet ached so badly. And then do some schoolwork.

I cleaned bathrooms (which caused some serious anxiety for my germ-freak self, especially at that time, ha!), spilled a strawberry sundae on my shirt when I was carrying two full trays into the dining area, fumbled through drive-through duty for the first time when the manager abruptly put the headset on me, and messed up a few times as I went through the general learning process of doing something new. I blushed and stuttered when boys flirted with me now and then. I got yelled at and grumbled at a few times, and my super-sensitive self blinked back tears and was sure my manager and the restaurant owner rather resented me.

Perhaps everyone feels this way, but my first job was really stressful for me! Not because it was actually so horrible, but because every little thing seemed magnified and overwhelming in my mind.

I only worked there about three and half months before turning in my notice so I could go live in my “home state” (place I was born) with my relatives for a month, and then just put all my focus back on school work and writing.

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So really … that was my only official job.

My family moved out of state the next year (2014). About a year later, July of 2015 (I think), I moved back for a couple months with my older brother. Then moved back in with my family. Then the next year, April 2016, my older brother and I drove to my “home state” and I ended up staying there for 9-ish months.

I’d planned to stay permanently, but just wasn’t really finding my place there. And I missed my family. Especially when some of my six younger siblings would write me letters saying how much they missed me, and how I was the best big sister, and how they wished I would come home. It nearly wrenched my heart out, haha! My anxiety had already worsened in the last couple years of moving around, but that year it was pretty bad and I also struggled with some depression. It definitely wasn’t all bad, though! My aunt & uncle, grandparents, and cousins loved on me, and I got to meet new people and experience neat things. But when my older brother and I flew back home in January 2017 for a late family Christmas, I ended up staying. My parents bought my brother and I plane tickets out there for my mom’s Christmas present (*smiles*), but they never bought me a return ticket like they said they would, so I’ll just blame it on that, haha. Summer of 2017 was spent, almost to the very last hour, remodeling the house my parents bought and everything having to do with that.

Anyway. Since my brief time at Dairy Queen, I’ve written up a resume, filled out many applications, gone to multiple interviews, and almost got at least three different jobs (two of them were at libraries! *smiles*). For various reasons, I didn’t end up getting them.

And now I’m here. Twenty-one. No job. No car. Unsure of where my path is winding.

Luke 12:6-7

6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

I did buy a car while I was living in my “home state”. But it was not fit to drive the many miles home, so I have it no longer. And I’ve been blessed with many babysitting and cleaning jobs during my “unemployed” years!

Nevertheless, I feel this sense of shame and this feeling that I’m wrong. I feel both “behind” in life, and trapped because I didn’t get started at the “right time”. Sometimes it feels like I’m struggling to keep my head above the waves of doubt, fear, and a lack of confidence.

…I never gave much thought to jobs and careers. (Though I did take a couple college classes in my last year of high school.) I was too busy thinking other deep thoughts (haha). I did expect to get a job. But I’m a dreamer, and my head and heart were filled with ideas and plans and passions for writing novels, starting blogs, doing Bible studies, connecting deeply with people, touching lives, and impacting the world. Not to mention, I’d always expected to get married young. My mom had. My grandmother had. My great-grandmother had. Most of my friends and cousins got married between the ages of eighteen to twenty-one-years-old.

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So in all my plans and ponderings, I’d seen myself being married at eighteen or nineteen. At least by twenty-one! (Ha!) I saw myself loving and serving my husband and raising children with him to know the Lord. I saw myself running my household‚ÄĒcooking, cleaning, baking, homeschooling, etc.‚ÄĒand writing stories as an adored hobby. And sharing my book collection with other avid readers. To this day, I still often picture myself doing these things, and also keeping up this blog and opening up my home to people ‚Äď making meals for friends and starting Bible studies for teens and single adults. I dream of joyfully keeping a home and ministering to people from it.

Proverbs 12:4

4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,

Proverbs 31:10-13, 15, 17, 20-22, & 24-31

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.

And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.

17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.

20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.‚ÄĚ
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Titus 2:4-5

4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands,

1 Corinthians 11:3

3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

That’s obviously not to be. Not right now, anyway. I’m in a different season of life right now. And I struggle to figure it out! I don’t believe my dreams were bad or wrong, and I still have hope for them! But right now, I have to find out how to live as I should as a Christian, unmarried adult woman in America.

Psalm 84:3-5

3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young‚ÄĒ
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah

5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.

 

Should I have done things differently? Should I have stifled my dreams? Should I have tried harder to find jobs? Not moved around so much (as an adult, that is. I didn’t have much of a choice when my family moved!)?

I don’t know. People make me feel like I should have, like I did something wrong. Like I’m lazy and irresponsible and immature.

And it’s hard. It’s hard to think of people thinking badly of me. It causes all sorts of anxiety. (Yes, I struggle with insecurity, being a people-pleaser, and a lack of confidence. You probably know that if you’ve read this blog! I’m not trying to whine, just be honest. And I’m learning! God is teaching me to find my confidence in Him.)

Have I done things wrong? Yes. Am I imperfect? Without a doubt. Have I not managed my time wisely some years? Absolutely. Could I have done things differently? Probably so.

But I did what I did.

That’s what happened.

That’s how life went.

And God used all those years to teach and grow me, and do things in my life and the lives of those around me.

It’s not wasted.

Even if I made mistakes and messed things up and took forever to learn certain lessons … He was with me even then. He was working in my life.

The past is the past.

I can’t change it.

It may or may not have put me “behind” in this life as I learn more of what it means to live as an adult.

But, do I trust God? Do I trust Him to provide me with a job, and a car, and a ministry, and everything I need in His timing?

Philippians 4:19

19 And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Do I trust that He is able, even if I haven’t been technically employed for a long while? Do I trust that He can redeem past mistakes and errors?

Joel 2:25-27

25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.
27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:
I am the Lord your God
And there is no other.
My people shall never be put to shame.

Do I trust that He can use, is using, me now, even while I don’t have a job?

Philippians 4:10-13

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Do I trust Him, even when people talk negatively about me?

Even when people make me feel worthless and stupid?

Make me feel like I’m unwanted and not belonging anywhere?

They don’t know my story. That don’t know the anxiety and depression and other health issues I’ve dealt with, and how that’s hindered me. They don’t know my heart. They don’t know that I desire and I’m trying to love and serve God and people in the ways I know best! They don’t know how I strive to fill my days with some sort of purpose … cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, helping out with the children, seeking God in prayer and His Word, helping a little with teaching school, and writing these blog posts. Driving the older kids places. Editing my stories. Grocery shopping. Organizing and sorting through things. Trying to encourage people and start being a mentor-of-sorts to my younger sisters.

Psalm 84:10-12

10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!

 

I have’t always done well. I haven’t always strove to have a helpful and serving attitude toward my family. I haven’t always been thankful. I haven’t always tried my best and done everything as unto the Lord.

I know there are people who deal with anxiety, depression, different health issues, and all sorts of things and still have done better than me in life. They’ve had their steady job for years. They have a car. They have a house. They know where they’re going in life.

I’m not trying to justify everything about myself, and my life, and my choices. I think I tend to try to paint everything in as positive a light as possible, perhaps because I hope there will be someone out there who believes in me. I list out all these things and ramble on so, maybe because I’m trying to convince myself that I’m okay.

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That I haven’t ruined my life. That I’m not a failure.

But I can’t find that confidence in other people. And I certainly can’t find it in myself.

2 Corinthians 10:7

7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s.

I must find it in God.

I can only find it in God.

Because, you know what? Loved by Him is my identity. And He is worthy of my trust. He is so able to work everything out for His glory and my good. He can redeem my past mistakes. He is still working on me, and He does not forsake me. Sometimes I look back and think, “Oh my, I’m making this ever a process!” But He is ever faithful! Sanctification is a process! ‚̧

Romans 8:8

8 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

And I am an individual person with my own, unique story. I need to stop comparing. Stop trying to measure up. Stop trying to take everything into my hands and think I have to control and take care of it all.

2 Corinthians 9:8

8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

My faithful Provider is taking care of me.

Do I deserve it? Of course not. But He chose me. He wants me. He delights in me. Because I’m His daughter now. And I need to hold onto faith that He will lead me on the path that He has for me and provide for me along the way. I need to grow in faith that He will give me His strength to take the steps needed, even when I’m anxious, tired, not feeling well, or worried I’ll lose my purpose and not be impacting people for His kingdom if I work at a fast-food restaurant serving people unhealthy food, (haha, I seriously worry about this all the time. I have the INFJ personality, and I try to find purpose and meaning in EVERYTHING. It can be exhausting, yes.)

So, He can do ANYTHING! He can do things beyond my wildest dreams and hopes! He uses MY WEAKNESS to display HIS STRENGTH. He has been pursuing me and taking care of me since the beginning of my life ‚Äď since before!

Ephesians 3:20-21

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

9¬†And He said to me,¬†‚ÄúMy grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.‚Ä̬†Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.¬†10¬†Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ‚Äôs sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Psalm 139:13-16

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

I trust Him.

My friends, I am so imperfect! But my God is so perfect. Look to Him, not me. And I hope, if you can relate to me in this, that this post was an encouragement to you and blessed your heart. God loves you, precious soul. He’s taking care of you. You can trust Him with your life. Every detail. Surrender your plans and let Him lead.

2 Corinthians 9:10-15

10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Much love,

Lady Grace ‚̧

Philippians 4:1

Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

 

Psalm 139 & Confidence

confidence

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

Powerful. We as humans (and especially as women, perhaps) go around comparing ourselves to others and letting the media tell us what we should look like and how we should act.

Too fat. Too skinny. Too tall. Too short. You need longer legs. A smaller waist. Bigger eyes. And¬†where¬†is the “thigh gap”??

So¬†modest. Pitifully shy. Not enough sass … too quiet and demure. Be more aggressive! Be more sensual, bold, and desensitized to things like innocence and purity.

We can’t measure up. And some of us ruin our lives trying to. Or you’re like me … striving to stay faithful to what you believe about a woman’s appearance and actions – and yet often ending up feeling ugly, stupid, unwanted,¬†not good enough¬†in many situations.

You know what? It’s time to open our eyes to the truth. YOU are LOVED by the KING OF KINGS. He loves and cares so much for you! He lovingly crafted you in your mother’s womb. He has a plan for your life!

Pfft, forget what the world thinks. What do they know? You are fearfully and wonderfully made!

You are not ugly. You are not unwanted. Not unloved. Not a weird person. Not a “dumb blonde”. Not boring and useless. Not stupid.

God looks down and sees His child, whom He loves. HE LOVES YOU. God loves us!

Why all this fear and shame over what¬†people¬†say and think? And this talk of self-confidence … What we really need, is God-confidence. We need to look up and see that our Creator, Redeemer, Father, and Friend treasures us. He never says, “That stupid person”.

So yeah. That’s what makes me confident. The assurance that I’m God’s princess. His daughter. Yes, I’m still quiet, insecure, and “socially awkward” a lot … But my King is showing me more and more that I am so powerfully and abundantly LOVED. And mere, unhappy people’s opinions don’t matter at all when the God of the Universe created, and loves, and is there for me.

Blessings, dear readers. You. Are. Beautiful.

 

** Originally posted on Between the Pages of This Bookish Life, April 18th, 2015 **

Insecure.

insure

Insecurity. Shame. Self-Hate. Fear. Depression. Worthlessness.

It‚Äôs suffocating, isn‚Äôt it? That feeling that we‚Äôll never be good enough. That we‚Äôre worthless. That life has no hope for us. Those dark lies whispered into our ears, snuffing out our light …

You will never be worthy of a godly husband. Who would want you? You‚Äôre too much work‚ÄĒtoo much of a mess.

Stop being so arrogant! Get your face back in the dirt, girl! As if God values you and has a future for you.

Your future is dark. You’ll never get where you want to be. God doesn’t really hear you. You may as well curl up in the corner and waste away.

You’re not good enough, because you don’t have a job. Look at all those hard workers out there. They’re so good. You, however, are pretty much useless to your family.

Ugh. You’re so stupid. Why did you say that? Why did you do that? When are you ever going to get it right, you idiot??

Remember all those dark and awful things you did in your past? You scum of the earth. If people really knew who you are, they wouldn’t accept and love you.

Look at you. You’re ugly. You need to lose weight. Why would that man want you? He could have so many better girls!

You’re a horrible mother. You’re wrecking your own children. Your house is a mess. You’re tired and depressed every day. You’ll never get things right. You’ll never do anyone any good.

You think your gift is writing? Actually, your stories are stupid. You’re wasting your time. You’re not serving God or others.

You are so shy, and dumb, and socially awkward. Nobody even likes hanging out with you. They don’t want to talk to you. They don’t want to sit by you. You annoy them. Just go away.

The list could go on and on. I’ve struggled with listening to most of these lies.

When I was about twelve/thirteen years old, I was convinced that I was overweight. I didn‚Äôt want to visit my family and friends out of state because I was certain they wouldn‚Äôt like me anymore. I would get depressed when around girls thinner then me‚ÄĒfeeling this irrational shame and less-than-ness. Even to this day, I can be pretty insecure about how I look. And it’s a hard thing when you feel like you’re just not beautiful.

Around the same age, I fell into a deep and dark season of doubting God. I knew, somewhere in my soul, that He was there, but I was afraid that because of my doubting He would send me to hell if I died. And I feared the end of the world would come before I stopped doubting.

For years, I struggled with tying my worth to how hard and how much I worked. Around thirteen, I actually remember thinking that my parents probably didn’t love me that much. Why would they? I was a stupid, moody teenager who didn’t do much work around the house when it came down to it. Just some hand-washing dishes a couple times a day.

As I got older and still to this day, I struggle with ever feeling like enough for a godly husband. I have health issues, and emotional problems, and deal with irrational fear and anxiety. Who would want me? I’m nothing special. Nothing sets me apart. I’m boring, awkward, and silly.

I feel bad about past mistakes. Sometimes shame consumes me, and I feel like all my wrongdoings of the past define me. It’s who I am. I’ll never be able to leave it behind. If people really knew . . .

All this stuff . . . it just gets you feeling so low you wonder if you can ever rise again. I’m sure you readers can add your struggles to the list. The dark lies you hear daily.

We, as human beings, struggle and struggle and struggle with insecurity. And the world tries to give us tips like:

  • Just be you!
  • Have confidence in yourself!
  • Look in the mirror and say: ‚ÄúI love you. You are beautiful.‚ÄĚ
  • You rock just the way you are!
  • Shake it off!!

And some of this stuff could have some merit. (Most of it sounds silly in the light of our monstrous burden of insecurity). But while it can have us soaring high for a few days, it never seems to keep us on the top of the mountains, because the world also tells us:

Skinny is beautiful. Don’t you see the models? They have thigh gaps, tiny waists, and long, thin legs. You need to be that way, and here’s how you can do it.

Stop being so meek and modest. You must be sexy, brash, and bold if you ever want love.

You don’t go to college? Don’t have a job? No boyfriend? Excuse me, child? You’re messed up Рgot it all wrong.

What?? You’ve never been kissed? Believe in saving sex until marriage? What is your problem? You’re definitely never going to get the beautiful marriage you think you will. You’ll probably end up an old maid.

And yeah. We fall back in the same old insecurity. Because we‚Äôre ‚Äútoo fat‚ÄĚ, or we‚Äôre ‚Äútoo thin‚ÄĚ. Or we‚Äôre different‚ÄĒwe stand up for purity and modesty and godliness, and people think we‚Äôre ridiculous. Or we see all the perfectly clean houses and happy, loving mother-children relationships of our friends on Facebook, and feel like a failure. Or we have high standards for romantic relationships, and feel worthless because we‚Äôre not dating yet‚ÄĒnobody‚Äôs even asked.

And we feel like everybody is telling us: ‚ÄúYeah right. In your dreams. You‚Äôll just never get it. You gotta be better. You‚Äôll never be good enough.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúYou. Will. Never. Measure. Up.‚ÄĚ

Suffocating.

And then we look in the mirror and try to tell ourselves, ‚ÄúI love you. You‚Äôre beautiful. You can do it.‚ÄĚ?

Forget it!!!

Who believes that in the midst of the world’s nasty taunts and the Enemy’s even uglier lies that bombard us?

Are you tired of trying to believe all on your own? I certainly am. So if you are, then join me. We need a new plan of confidence and finding our worth.

It starts with:

Look to your Creator and His Word.

  • God made you.

26¬†Then God said, ‚ÄúLet Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all¬†the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.‚ÄĚ 27¬†So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28¬†Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‚ÄúBe fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.‚ÄĚ

29¬†And God said, ‚ÄúSee, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30¬†Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food‚ÄĚ; and it was so. 31¬†Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 1:26-31

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:13:16

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The Almighty God created you. He crafted you and your inmost parts. He designed your talents, your desires, your dreams, you future. He made YOU a temple of the Holy Spirit when you accepted Him.

People, this is huge! Imagine an unimaginable, holy, high Being taking dust gently into His big, loving hands, and precisely and purposefully forming YOU.

Readers, God made you.

f53c0ea19e3446ba9602ae3349685545(found on Pinterest)

  • God saved you.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

Colossians 1:13

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:8-10

13¬†For ‚Äúwhoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.‚ÄĚ

Romans 10:13

The Creator of the Universe, the one true God, the mightiest and holiest Being … He sent His¬†ONLY,¬†BELOVED¬†Son to die for you. He was bruised, and beaten, and killed so that YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE. And not just life, but abundant life! And eternity!

The Bible says the greatest love is laying down your life for someone else. Wouldn’t you agree?? Well, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did that for you. If you have accepted this amazing gift, then God has granted you salvation.

Readers, God saved you.

bcb69fabca5355bb313dda4a951e4f23(found on Pinterest)

  • God does not condemn you.

5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.

Psalm 34:5

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:11-12

Sometimes, what makes us insecure, is the shame of past sins. The guilt of failure. The fear of never being good enough. But the truth is, you don’t have to be ashamed. Your wrongdoings of the past, are gone. Wiped away. You are free!

36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

John 8:36

Furthermore, there’s now no more condemnation. No one can point a finger at you and say, “Well, they did this that one time . . .” No.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1

God is not a stern taskmaker, or a cruel father, or a condemning judge – waiting for you to mess up so He can strike you. No! He loves His creations! He desire that they be saved and cleansed and filled with joy and hope in Him!

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12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 18:12-14

34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!

Luke 13:34

17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.‚ÄĚ

Zephaniah 3:17

20¬†‚ÄúAnd he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21¬†And the son said to him, ‚ÄėFather, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.‚Äô

22¬†‚ÄúBut the father said to his servants, ‚ÄėBring¬†out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23¬†And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24¬†for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.‚Äô

Luke 15: 20-24

Do you still carry the sins of your past like a secret burden? Does it tie you up in knots of shame and insecurity? Do you feel like a failure? Do you think God is angry in heaven, shaking his finger at you because you just can’t get it right? Read the above verses, my dear! Those who look to God, their faces are radiant! They are not ashamed! If you have simply accepted the gift, you are forgiven, you are free, you are new – there is NO condemnation for you. God is not waiting to shame you, He is waiting to gather you up in His arms and help you!

And those past sins, they are no more.

Readers, God does not condemn you.

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  • God sees you.

13¬†So she called the name of the¬†Lord¬†who spoke to her, ‚ÄúYou are a God of seeing,‚Ä̬†for she said,¬†‚ÄúTruly here I have seen him who looks after me.‚ÄĚ

Genesis 16:13

Oftentimes, we acknowledge that God created us. We accept His gift of eternal life. But we don’t actually feel like He values us. Wants us. We feel ashamed or arrogant to claim God’s love and care. I mean,¬†me? I’m just a little nobody in the grand scheme of things. God allowed me to be born, but now leaves me to muddle through life on my own.¬†Nothing could be further from the truth!¬†Here the Truth, dear readers:

11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.

Isaiah 40:11

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

Psalm 139:1-5

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

John 10:27-28

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;

Deuteronomy 33:27

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

Romans 8:16

We are His children. He is our shepherd! He lovingly carries us close to His heart. He knows us. Our needs. Our pain. Our desires. Our thoughts. Our dreams. Our gifts. Our future.

And not only does God know us. He cares about us. Every detail. Even little things that we think God wouldn’t notice or be bothered with. You are never alone. Jesus saw the needs and hurts of those around him; He saw their hearts and He cared.

13¬†When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‚ÄúDo not weep.‚ÄĚ

Luke 7:13

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

John 14:1

7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

When we stray, He woos us back. When we call out to Him – even in our dirtiest, blackest form – He saves us. He cares about our needs, He cares about us. And He will not allow anything to take us from Him.

42¬†Then he said to Jesus, ‚ÄúLord,¬†remember me when You come into Your kingdom.‚ÄĚ

43¬†And Jesus said to him, ‚ÄúAssuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.‚ÄĚ

Luke 23:42-43

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
15 I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

Hosea 2:14-15

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.‚ÄĚ

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39

18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

2 Timothy 4:18

You are of much value to God. In your distress, your fear, your sorrow, your insecurity, your anxiety, your hopelessness, your pain, He is there.

Readers, God sees you.

8b566c055453329880c5fe5ac7059252(found on Pinterest)

  • God has a plan for you.

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

Isaiah 43:1

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.‚ÄĚ

Jeremiah 1:5

15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Ephesians 1:15-21

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2:1-3

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

1 Peter 2:9

Look to Jesus! Know there is hope, and purpose, and destiny for you! God chose you! He has a future for you! He has a specific plan for your life; you have a purpose on this earth. You are needed. Your gifts and talents are meant to be used. God has called you to abundant life, hope and joy, and eternity!

Readers, God has a plan for you.

***

So . . . after all that . . . (which was really quite beautiful, don’t you agree? The Bible never fails to surprise me, amaze me, and touch deep into my soul) what is the conclusion? How does that solve the issues of our painful insecurity?

Well.

If God made you. Saved you. Does not condemn you. Sees you. Has a plan for you . . .

That means you are worthy. Valued. Forgiven. Cherished. New. You are royalty. You have great hope. You have an incredible inheritance.

Why?

Because of Jesus Christ. Because of this amazing Father God who looked down and said, “I want to save these people, because I love them“. We are enough because Jesus loves us!

If I throw off the world’s sneers and Satan’s condemnation, and look up into the glorious face of Jesus, I see that I am beautiful¬†(He created me in His image), I am valued¬†(He chose to save my weak, doubting soul), I am forgiven and clean¬†(He does not condemn me), I am cherished¬†(He sees me), I am royalty, I have hope¬†(He has plan for me – on earth and in eternity).

True Beauty...(found on Pinterest)

If I look to the world or to myself, I will never be secure. I will never be confident. I will never be good enough. I will never be clean. I will never be hopeful.

Because it’s all about Jesus! It’s all about my loving Father! It’s not about me. And that is perfect. Because when I stop looking at myself, and start looking at Him, all I see is His love.

And I’m convinced, somehow, deep down, that I am beautiful, secure, loved, strong, HIS.

And I see that others are too.¬†And suddenly, I want to tell the world to stop looking for self-confidence and start looking for Jesus! Because I have found this incredible security, and I want you, my dear reader, to find it too! *big hugs* ‚̧

Now all I have to say to you is …

19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.

1 Chronicles 22:19

13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

** Originally published on Between the Pages of This Bookish Life, June 16th, 2015 **