Posts tagged beauty
The Way Of Beauty

I woke to the crisp cold of an almost-fall morning, blind to beauty,

barely aware of a day full of promise.


I trudged— yes, that’s the right word— to my cabin in the back,

oblivious to the setting of the moon,

to the lingering stars,

to the sweet scent of dew lacing the dawn.


I did what I always do: lit the candle, poured my tea,

wrapped myself in the comfort of solitude,

invited Him in.


And again— again!

He met me there.


While He opened my mind to my heart

and listened…

as I moaned- again- about too many to-do’s.


And then He spoke. Softly, kindly,  firm:

 All I have is Yours,

and all You have is mine.


Yes! Yes— I know those words, this truth underlined and asterisked.

I know what it means; know how it lives,

how I live when these words ring true.


And His words change everything~

This day, made by Him, for me; lived by me, for Him.



And now I see, I hear, I sense Him as the morning dawns.

His hand at my back, guiding me, leading me, showing me

a better way for this almost-fall day.


A way of beauty.


From my heart,


P.S.  If you're finding a too long to-do list blinding you to beauty, will you leave your name so I can pray for you as I go on my walks in these hue-changing woods?


(Image by Hillary Kupish)


And the man and his wife

were both naked and



Genesis 2:25


Dear Daughter,

One of my favorite things to watch is a woman freshly home from her honeymoon. A transformation takes place in that week of intimacy, a metamorphosis. She stands before her husband in all the glory of her wedding finery, sees her beauty reflected in his face, gives herself with purest abandon to his love, and emerges someone else entirely.


There is a swagger to her step, a sort of flirtatious look of confidence, a knowing. As if she’s got a secret just bursting to be divuldged.

She belongs. She is known. She is cherished. She is loved.

Simo, hang on to that. Because that is truth— he loves you, he cherishes you, he is captured, intrigued, irresistibly drawn to your beauty.

But there is an enemy who would convince you otherwise. A sneaky serpent who uses subtle strategies to steal the freedom of a well-loved woman. One who knows that a woman who dances in the reflection of her husband’s love is a dire threat to an enemy hell-bent on destroying beauty.

It started long ago. On that fateful day when Eve shared the forbidden fruit with Adam, shame was born. A new emotion, powerful enough to send her into hiding.

…then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:7

… and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid… Genesis 3:10

And every woman since has felt those cords of shame tighten around her freedom. Call it inhibition. Call it embarrassment. Disinterest, angst, or ambivalence.

We blame the beauty industry— an easy scapegoat with it's distorted images of haughty, airbrushed, photo-shopped fakery.

Or we blame men— we’re sure they’ve elevated a certain standard of gorgeousness that is unobtainable by the average woman, or at least by ourselves.

We look in the mirror and see everything wrong:

Not thin enough, not curved enough, not firm enough, not soft enough…

Too big, too small, too tall, too curly, too straight, too much, too little…

And those cords of shame wrap tentacles so tight we can scarcely breathe, let alone glory in our own bodies or relish the response of a husband who loves us.

And in our shame, we hide. 

But Simo, it’s all a trick. A lie. A strategy to destroy what God said was good.

Give into this lie and you’ll live a life of less-than. You’ll struggle and wonder why, you and Matt will misunderstand each other. You’ll hurt. You’ll pull away, so will he. You’ll miss out on the wonder of being that woman who knows she is pursued, sought, cherished.


And so, since I love lists, here is one for you, dear one. A way to combat the lies that would bind your beauty with cords of shame.

How To Be The Beauty You Were Created To Be:

1.  Believe that God crafted you beautifully.

He used His artistry to weave you together in your mother’s womb in just the way He wanted. Dare you honestly say you think He messed up? That He made one woman more lovely than another? That somehow He wasn’t quite on the job when He made you?

2.  Acknowledge that beauty is not perfection. 

Authentic art includes contrast and proportion, texture and shading. An artist chooses from a wide variety of medium to tell a uniquely compelling story. Copy-cats are considered fakes in the world of valuable treasures.

When women determine to fit themselves into a mold of someone else’s making they only hurt themselves.

3.  See your beauty through your husband’s eyes.

When you uncover yourself to him and he responds with enthusiastic arousal, he is adding an exclamation mark to your beauty.

Drink it in. Let the truth of his response sink deep. He sees your beauty.

Choose to neither hide nor deny what you see reflected in his eyes.

Allow yourself the luxury of responding to his response.

4.  Never compare your beauty to another’s.

It doesn’t work that way, anymore than comparing a Rothko to a Rembrandt. Relish your uniqueness, flaunt it, be who you are. Like who you are.

5.  Give your beauty freely to your husband. 

He needs to see you, to feel your skin, to run his hands over your softness. To hide from him is to rob him of the one of the greatest joys of marriage. He loves what he sees, let him feast his eyes on your loveliness.

And not just now, when you’re young and lithe and tan and wedding-day slim. He needs to see you when you’re 9 months pregnant, and 4 months post-partum, when you’re wrinkling and aging, when you’re surely no candidate for a beauty contest.

Because He sees what you cannot— that you are beautiful by being who you are.

6.  Guard your beauty. 

Like a lovely garden of the finest flowers, a woman’s beauty must be cultivated and maintained. Neglected, we go to seed. Nourished, pampered, smoothed, and cared for, we flourish.

My dear daughter, to be naked and not ashamed in the presence of your husband is to enjoy a place in which freedom and beauty reign. Do all you can to stay in that holy place, to guard your heart against the lies that slip in unnoticed.

From my heart,


P.S. For those who are reading:

Men, are you getting a glimpse into the soul of a woman with these insights? Pay attention, the woman you love is struggling to see her own beauty.

Women, is this new to you? Have you bought into the lies? Can you share your stories and strategies with us? 



Reaching back into my journal from my summer of silence…  


Yesterday I cleaned the garage.  It was a hot, dusty, spider-filled day.

And, as it was my long procrastinated attempt at sorting through my too-much stuff again, I was fairly overwhelmed with decision-making.  I’ve struggled and failed to find a matrix that works for sorting through 36 years worth of accumulation. Throw in a few childhood memories and I’m sunk.

By the time I came inside to de-cobweb my hair and wash off the sweat of a hard summer day’s work, my little cottage was filled with all manner of pretty things stacked in haphazard disarray. My grandmother’s china overflowed a table in the hallway, vintage creamware cluttered the kitchen counter, boxes and boxes of books awaited my attention.

Isn’t that just the way of life? One mess leads to another until cleaning up messes overrides the best of plans… and I think that maxim applies to relationships as much as to garage cleaning…

So when I woke up early this morning with a rare day alone on the agenda I was torn. Should I spend the day studying for that Pastor’s Conference I am speaking at in Uganda? Or… should I play house with all my pretty things and spend my day creating beauty?

I did neither.

Instead I picked up a catalogue and feasted guiltily on pictures of cozy rooms and elegant arrangements. Between sips of steaming tea, I glanced at my Bible and tried to ignore that insistent sense that I really ought to first listen to the One I’ve given my life to.

I wanted to decorate all day… but I was certain that He would tell me to get to work. And so I stalled and sipped tea and wondered where to put what, feeling like a naughty girl ignoring her chore list as if I was ten years old again. Memories of sneaking a few pages of my Nancy Drew mystery instead of dusting my room came flooding back.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I tossed the magazine aside and picked up my Bible. How can I call Jesus my Lord and ignore Him as I ready for my day?  With a sigh I opened to where I’d left off the day before, ready to listen yet secretly wishing for the freedom to do what I wanted.

What I read… and heard, made me fall in love with my Father all over again. Because He’s not who I seem to consistently think He is: He’s not a taskmaster cracking the whip or a teacher clucking His tongue at my flakiness. He is not waiting for me to open my Bible so He can show me my chore list.

Yes, I listen for instruction. Of course He often corrects me. And sometimes He calls me to deny what I want to do in order to accomplish what I am called to complete. But that’s not the whole picture, not even close.

Here is where my morning reading took me:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.

You believe in God; believe also in me.

My Father’s house has many rooms:

if that were not so would I have told you

I am going there to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

John 14:1-3

I could fairly feel the brush of His Spirit against my soul as I breathed in His truth— He’s not mad at me for wanting to decorate my little cottage on Firwood Road!  In fact, He is spending His holy hours doing the same— preparing a place for me, a place where we can relish intimacy, a place of rest, a place of untangling troubled hearts caught up in self-imposed pressures.

His love wafted over my stringent should’s like the fragrant candle burning on my bedside table. I breathed deep— and smiled.

And so, this morning, before I get up and putter about arranging my pretty things, I want to remind you what I am just now remembering for myself. Because some of us get it wrong sometimes… and we lose peace… we miss His joy and stagger under a load He hasn’t meant for us to carry.  And then we work too hard and feel guilty because we’re crabby and short-tempered and generally hard to live with. (yep, that is me confessing who I’ve been this last week!)

This, then is truth:

Jesus is… a Redeemer lovingly restoring a broken world back to Himself.

He is… a Creator inviting you to play along with Him.

He is… a Maker of Beauty.


From a heart delighting in who He is,


P.S. Are you like me? Do you impose rigid rules on yourself that actually aren’t from the Father? Can you name a few to help us recognize them in ourselves?





I believe in God because of beauty. Because the intricacies of deep pink peonies outside my window beckon bumbles bees to come and hide…

Because green is moss and forest and leaf and sea and hundreds of hues in between…

Because of Sequoias and Redwoods and Oaks and Cedars.

Because on the darkest night the stars shine brilliant…

I believe in God because I can see Him and hear Him and smell Him in all He has made. Singing in rain, sighing in gusts of invisible wind, whispering in softest snowfall.

Covering over everything ugly.

All around me beauty reigns, awakening my heart to see something more.

I believe in God because He has left traces of who He is for all to see.

Because I feel His skin in every embrace, and sense His breath in every face.

Because of beauty.

That’s why I believe in God.



Fearing people is a dangerous trap,

But to trust the LORD means safety.

Proverbs 29:25


Doesn’t it always come back to this?

To put my hand in His and let Him be the one to lead.

To trust His judgment.

And don’t we all struggle with just this?

This need to learn how to purposely choose to look at His face whenever I worry about what’s maybe right and what might be wrong?

To look to Him for approval instead of letting the approval of people be my guide?

Just a little while ago I was in Albania sitting across from a new friend, a woman being braver than most, willing to go against the grain that constrains the women there.

She told me about all those years when communism reigned and having nothing was normal— no beauty, no luxury, not enough food, not enough of anything.

And so women just cleaned. Because their homes were not pretty, they made sure they were clean. Cleaner than anyone else’s. Women mopped and shined and wiped meticulously, endlessly. And then they apologized for anything less than perfect and limited themselves, lest anyone see so much as a smudge.

And they’re still doing it now while working and buying and saving and educating and cooking the most delicious and time intensive meals I’d ever eaten.

And my friend has decided not to go along with that pressure. She won’t be defined by the hygienics of her shower.

She has stuff to do, important stuff. 

So she’s writing instead of scrubbing; children’s bible stories, a blog for young mothers, another for Albanian families, an online magazine. And she’s gathering women to study Scripture, to search for wisdom about raising their children in post-communist, still-atheist Albania.

Edi is my hero—she’s bold, she’s beautiful.

She’s safe.

And Edi has mastered something I’m just beginning to learn— that to fear God we women must deliberately ignore the disapproval of our sisters and mothers and magazines and friends.

We must choose instead to think long and hard, to ponder all alone just what it is that the LORD is asking of us.

To wear the clothes that fit, and toss out those wishful thinking styles that bind our souls too tight.

But how? Other than letting ourselves get all hard and cold and defiant, how in the world can we act on this?

Here’s my list for me…

  1. To not try to do it all.
  2. To tell the truth.
  3. To be satisfied with who we are and then be free to enjoy our sisters who aren’t like us at all.
  4. To do what only I can do and not try to do more.
  5. To smile and have fun and hole up in quiet corners all by myself just because I crave that.
  6. To wear glitter when grey is more the style.

I am learning… slowly. And so are you. We’ll get this eventually.

From my heart,


Isaiah 51:7… so much wisdom

repost from Nov. 2012 

Choosing Rest

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest..." Hebrews 4:11

For months and months and months my every-days have been filled to the brim with must-do’s.

I went to sleep most nights knowing the next day was too full to manage but knowing that if I didn’t manage someone would be mad.

Not as in really mad, but that sort of frustrated, somewhat annoyed mad that makes me cringe inside.

And I’ve been the maddest of all. Mad at myself for not keeping up— for the dog hair I didn’t vacumm, the empty fridge of not-home-made food, for not keeping up with running or weights or plucking my eyebrows or answering e-mails.

Mad at myself for the unkempt piles on my desk that hid invitations I couldn’t accept because I was too busy to go and didn’t even send a card to let her know I wish I could but I can’t.

What’s wrong with me?!

And every time I asked that question in frustration at another ball dropped, I knew.

What’s wrong with me is-- I’m doing too much.

More than I am made for.

More than I can do well… and still be nice… and happy.

Do you know what I’m sayin’?

And so today I start a quest for balance in my life. For rest in my every-days. For a pace that works for me, to match the timer God set inside of me, the heart beat that matches mine.

I’m asking Him to show me what He wants me to do. Not what I want to achieve or what others wish I’d manage or what might make me look better than I am.

What do You want, Lord?

And here’s what I keep hearing:

There is a time to pour out everything. To work hard, and be efficient, and say no to other things that don’t matter as much. To achieve is a good thing-- to achieve for the Kingdom, best of all.

Now its time to rest. To lie down in that green meadow beside the quiet stream. To be still. To breath deeply of God’s beauty and find rest there.

And so today I’ve rested in beauty.

I’ve polished silver teaspoons and clipped the first roses dripping fragrance on the arbor. After I gathered armfuls of peonies I walked… rambled really, with my face soaking in that soft spring mist I love.

And then I sat down in my big chair by the window and spent a while reading… a book I’ve read before… and need again. Her quiet words speaking life back into my tired soul.

In a few minutes my quiet will be invaded by five lively, full-of-fun grandkids. I’ll read stories and start a fairytale I’ve been wanting them to relish along with me. I’ll admire Lego creations and waggle my eyebrows with Sunday as we laugh at all those silly boys.

I’ll have all the time they need to be just me

And you? Are you too tired? Doing too much? Dropping balls and huffing and puffing and not sure why?

Want to join in me in this quest for rest?

I'd love to hear where you're finding that rest... how you're delighting in beauty... how you're learning to set the pace that brings you fullest joy... And I've a feeling there may just be more posts as we learn together to set His pace for our lives...

From my heart,



“Therefore I am now going to allure her;

 I will lead her into the wilderness

and speak tenderly to her.

There I will give her back her vineyards,

and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.

There she will respond as in the days of her youth,

as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

Hosea 2v14,15 NIV

All week I have been praying for the many women who wrote in response to last week’s faltering description of what a marriage looks like when both husband and wife lay all their wants and needs at the foot of the Cross. (Why he's not your Prince Charming)

And all week I’ve been pondering what to write next, waiting in the early stillness to hear that Voice.  In light of the cry from so many women whose hearts yearn to know more of what it means to be gathered into that kind of intimacy with God, to have their fears calmed and their needs met, I just cannot blithely blunder into a post about marriage.

So every morning I’ve asked… what should I say, Lord? I barely understand this myself, how can I communicate Your wisdom to women who crave more than concepts? Women who need to know how? Women who are awakening to Your call to come close? Is there a tidy formula I can line out? Steps 1…2…3…?

Instead of giving me words with which to tie a tidy bow around this gift of the gospel and the Cross and the way to both intimacy and dependency, I have felt His leading me to understand His love just for me…

My insistent read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year-in-chronological-order chart placed me in Hosea this week. Three days to whip through 14 chapters. But I can’t do it. Can’t get beyond chapter two and that first bit of chapter three. His words have captivated me, held me in grip of sorrow.

Because I am that woman I have so often self-righteously despised. Hosea’s wife, the promiscuous woman whose wayward wanting of more is an appalling picture of who we become when we refuse to be satisfied by God and God alone.

I know, I know, the story is supposed to be about Israel’s straying from Yahweh. But I cannot help myself. I am her!

And maybe some of you are too.

When you are sad  who do you tell first?  Your husband-who-is-supposed-to-listen-without-solving-it?  Your Facebook friends? Your mom? 

When you are worried do you first make lists? Check websites? Go for a run?

Is the measure of your worth tied up in people’s approval? Their kind comments and adulations about something they think you’re good at? Or is your value today dependent on whether or not your husband thinks you're beautiful and tells you- again?

Then maybe, like me, you are in danger of missing the greatest love of all. Maybe He’s right there waiting. Watching as you scurry and fret and work yourself to exhaustion to get it right.

And then this morning He spoke. Not in booming pronouncements or attention getting steps… but in that soft way He has of satisfying the place no one sees. That aching, wanting place.

"I will allure you to the wilderness because I love you... Because when you don’t feel good and nothing makes it better and you can’t get it right and no one is enough… I will bring you in close and fill you full… of Me."

The wilderness, my dear girls, is just where He wants us.

Not because we’re failures.

Not because we’re not as godly as that woman who seems so happy all the time.

And certainly not because we’re not good enough mothers or lovers or friends or worker-outters or whatever it is we think we’re supposed to be right now. 

That wilderness is where He wants us because it’s where we hear Him. 

He whispers there, outside the cacophony of all the sounds that compete for our attention.

Tender words.

Words of hope.

The kind of real hope that isn’t dependent on us doing more. Or being better. Or getting it right. 

“Throughout the Scripture, we see that God sometimes does His most powerful work in wilderness settings. Therefore, if you’re in such a place right now, take heart and take hope. As He did with His people, God has drawn you there in order to humble you and prove you— but also to do you good.”  (Jon Courson, Hosea)

Do you know what this means?

That very feeling of failure that nags at you is His whisper to come…

Your inadequacies are your beauty. Because in your weakness, He is so strong that He becomes all you need and when He becomes your everything, you finally become who you really are.



Wholly His.

Will you let Him lead you into that wilderness place?

Dare you stop trying to solve it and just listen?

Will you trust Him with the tensions in your story, knowing the real happily-ever-after ending will be worth it even if the right now is not the way you wish it was?

The wilderness never lasts forever, dear ones. He draws you there, speaks tenderly to you, and then causes you to blossom, producing hope in the midst of the “Valley of Achor”, that place of trouble.

And then… then He becomes all that you ever wanted.

“I will make you My wife forever,

showing you righteousness and justice,

unfailing love and compassion.

I will be faithful to you and make you Mine,

and you will finally know Me as the Lord.” 

Hosea 2v19,20 NLT

Hoping… and praying… that we will grasp this kind of love…

From my heart,


P.S. Are you in that wilderness place, wondering why? Or have you been there in the past and found Him faithful even when life hurts? Will you tell us about it?

Next week I’ve got another story I can hardly wait to share... it's about our first fight... and what I know now that I wish I'd known then... because, dear girls, he's really not your Prince Charming!



Ruth 3v1-18

The Proposal (Part Four)

 (Click here to listen to the fourth teaching of Ruth)



The Verse of the Week 





More Words from the Father

1 Peter 2v19-25

1 Peter 3v1-19

Psalm 34




From my Heart

Home / Not Always a Safe Place

Some of you are “making your home” amongst difficult people. You feel afflicted and picked on; judged and found wanting. No Walton family reruns, where everyone kisses each other at the end of the day and tucks them in with kindness. Instead, you absorb sarcasm and criticism, harsh words which poke and cause pain.

Oh, I’m not talking about abuse here, but about that every day brand of meanness that is so prevalent in our society today - so seemingly acceptable in its boundaries.

Not one of us is immune to the wounds received when living in this fallen world. And though it ought not to be in our homes, the reality is that sometimes it just is.


What’s a woman to do?


Some of us protect ourselves by putting a hard shell around our hearts. Others withdraw, keeping a safe distance from anyone who might lash out and hurt their tender souls. Or sometimes we fight back, returning meanness for meanness in an attempt to turn away the flood of negativity, giving them just what they deserve for hurting us so.


It doesn’t work, though, does it?


We end up feeling as ugly as we sound, or bound up and cold hearted; unable to pour on people the extravagant affection that makes a woman truly beautiful.

I have found Psalm 34 to be an invitation into the shelter of the Almighty during those trying times. This is David’s answer to those afflicted (NIV), discouraging (NLT), and humbling (NASB) realities.

Let’s walk through this Psalm together to discover how David found shelter from what he so poetically called, “the strife of tongues.”


Psalm 34

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly sing His praises.

I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are discouraged take heart.

Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt His name together.


It sounds to me like David is having to pull himself out of his discouragement one painful handful at a time. By turning away from his detractors and determining to focus his thoughts on God, David’s sore heart is being healed.

Sometimes it takes herculean effort to pull yourself away from the pain of hurt feelings. The only possible way to do so is to praise God, to boast about Him, to open your mouth and sing  out loud to Him. The out-loud part is important. You can’t stay down in the dumps for long when you are singing about God’s greatness.


I prayed to the Lord and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears.


This is just what you will need: freedom from the fear that life will always be this way - that strife and conflict instead of “goodness and mercy” will follow you all the days of your life.


Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; 

no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and He heard me.

He set me free from all my fears. 

For the angel of the Lord guards all who fear Him, and He rescues them.


Just like Ruth, you and I need a Rescuer - someone who will tuck you under His wing and guard your fragile heart. Rather than step in and rescue yourself by fighting back, what might happen if you, like David, chose instead to simply cry out to the Lord and wait? What if, instead of acting out your hurt and anger, you chose to bow low before the Father and honor Him with your tongue?


What if we so feared Him that we wouldn’t dare lash out?

Here’s what He says would happen:


Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Oh, the joys of those who trust in Him!

Let the people show Him reverence,

for those who honor Him will have all they need.

Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,

but those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing.


To taste is to experience, to relish the flavor of God’s goodness. When you get a taste of God, especially in the face of difficulties, you take Him in and are filled with His joy. When you honor Him in spite of how you are being treated, He will see to it that you have all you need. That hunger and that longing for love will be satisfied by God Himself.


How do I know this is true?


By long, hard experience. Too often, I have taken things into my own hands, determined to stick up for myself when feeling underappreciated, or ready to sass back when someone’s irritation interrupts my peace. My face wears a frown, and filled with “righteous indignation,” I let‘em know not to mess with me!


But that is not the way of Jesus, nor is it the way of beauty.


On those all-too-rare occasions when I have chosen to follow His way of dealing with difficult people, I have known a peace and a joy and a deep-down satisfaction that puts me in instant intimacy with the Father. There is nothing like it!

If your home is not an easy place to rest, and you find yourself longing for the love and acceptance that Ruth found with Boaz, perhaps you should follow the example of Jesus…and of those “holy women of old” in our Scripture reading for today. Read over those verses again. Ponder them in the light of your own circumstances. They are loaded with wisdom, full of keys to staying safely tucked under the wings of the Almighty.


And while tucked into that safe place, look around. You just might spot Sarah…or Ruth, maybe even Esther.


From my heart,





Fear Not


“…and now my daughter, do not fear.” Ruth 3v11


If this phrase sounds comfortingly familiar to you, it may be because it is something our God says over and over again to His far-from-courageous chosen leaders. Men and women who seem invincible when we read their stories were in fact terrified at the time. Yet they didn’t stay that way. As they watched Him at work, and as they listened for His voice, they gained the temerity to trust God to do what they knew they couldn’t. Ruth was one of them.


Maybe it’s time you were too.


Read up on their situations and ask Him for the kind of faith that banishes fear.


“Fear not…


Abraham  / Genesis 15v1

Isaac / Genesis 26v24

Jacob / Genesis 43v3

Moses / Exodus 14v13

Joshua / Joshua 8v1; 10v8

Jehoshaphat / 2 Chronicles 20v17

The RemnantIsaiah 41v10, 13, 14; 43v1, 5; 44v2

Ezekiel / Ezekiel 3v9

Daniel / Daniel 10v12

Joseph / Matthew 1v20

Zacharias / Luke 1v13

Mary / Luke 1v30

The shepherds / Luke 2v10

Paul / Acts 27v24

John / Revelations 1v17


“Thus Sarah obeyed…and you become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” 1 Peter 3v6


Ruth 3v1-18

The Proposal (Part Two)

 (Click here to listen to the fourth teaching of Ruth)


The Verse of the Week 




More Words from the Father

John 14v1-4

Luke 6v30-38

Colossians 3

Psalm 90v1,2



From my Heart

How to Create a Haven (Part One)

Every woman longs for a home. Not just a house filled with lovely things, but a home to run into and be safe. An abode where love spills on to everyone who enters there. A dwelling overflowing with comfort. A nest which pulls people in by its peace.

Naomi dreams of this for Ruth. She wants to see her daughter blossom in a place where she is valued. Her hopes for Ruth have risen from a heart which finally sees her for the jewel she is. It is this very desire which propels Naomi to urge Ruth to throw out convention and risk rejection in order to go after what they both need.

What about you? Are you willing to make yourself uncomfortable, to put your grand sense of self aside in order to create the kind of home you long for - the kind of home God longs for you to build?

I have to ask myself the same question. You see, all my life I’ve been called a dreamer. As I leaned on my window sill overlooking the rooftops of the town in which I grew up in Europe, I weaved lovely stories of life as it ought to be - a handsome prince, a house full of children who talked just like my Chatty Cathy, and me, pampered and petted and adored.

Reality painted a different picture. My handsome prince had to go to work, my children argued, whined, and complained (sounding an awful lot like me!) and moments of pampering got lost somewhere between loads of laundry

Are you disappointed that your home isn’t what you wish it were? Do you gaze around and wonder what happened? Do you look at your kids or your roommate and feel your heart sink in discouragement?

Here’s what I have discovered along this adventure of listening and learning from God’s Word for the last three decades: the kind of haven I envision for myself doesn’t just happen,


it is built on purpose.


This third chapter of Ruth provides for us a picture of what our homes can be. Here, the Father gives us a glimpse of home as He intended it to look and feel and smell. Whether your home is an apartment or a mansion, a cottage or a cot in the corner, it can be a place of refuge for all who enter its doors.

Let’s take a look at what Ruth and Boaz, with a little nudging from Naomi, created in the beginnings of their home.


A place of beauty.


From the beginning, God created man and woman for a beautiful place. The Garden was a reflection of His creativity and care - His welcome of us. It was there that He placed in our hearts an instinctive embracing of beauty which has never gone away. Naomi knew this. She helped Ruth to bathe and slather on perfume and to put on her finest clothes, not to impress Boaz, but to welcome him.

It takes time to create beauty. It takes effort. It takes forethought and planning. Yet when our home looks and feels and smells beautiful, we can’t help but sigh a great sigh of relief and rest there.


A soft place.


“Then she came softly…” I love that phrase. Here we get a glimpse of Ruth’s unique imprint on the scene…her signature style. As we go about building our home we add our uniquely gentle touch. By our own example as well as by our watchful enforcement (think hall monitor with a smile), we can create and defend an aura of gentleness within our relationships. We can insulate our homes from the harshness of the outside world - a world where horns blare, bloggers decimate strangers, teachers belittle teenagers, and peers point out every misstep. Our home ought to offer relief from all that in-your-face sort of confrontation.

And mothers, take note. If you follow the current strategies in child-raising by allowing your children to “work it out for themselves,” you will be an unwitting participant in what often amounts to sibling brutality. We have all seen it happen. Voices escalate, words proliferate, and the strongest, ugliest, meanest man wins. Training our children to control their feelings, reign in their tongues, and learn to communicate in loving, direct dialogue takes a lot of work. It requires constant vigilance and incredible wisdom as well. We know who to go to for that, though, don’t we?


A delightful place.


Ruth gave Boaz the surprise of his life when he woke up in the middle of the night to find her curled at his feet. Heart thumping, adrenalin surging, Boaz sat up with a start. His response to Ruth’s overtures bubbled up and spilled over her in the form of an outpouring of praise. He couldn’t say enough about her kindness to him in that moment. What about you? Do you often bring exclamations of delight from those who reside in your home? Are you filling your family and friends with memories of delightful surprises - those extra touches that speak volumes to whom they are directed? When I got the rare chance to visit my parents in their home in the mountains all by myself, my mom delighted me each night by slipping into my room, turning on the electric blanket, and folding back the bedding. That small gesture practically shouted love and care to me.

What would bring delight to those you love the most? Perhaps it’s time to give it some thought.


A place of discovery.


Every once in a great while there comes into our lives someone who “gets” us. They find us fascinating instead of weird. They shine a flashlight into the corners of our personalities to discover strengths we didn’t know we had. When we find such a treasure in a friend, we find ourselves feeling freer than we’ve ever felt before. Those of us who are kind of quiet begin to talk. Talkative people rest. Walls fall down and our hopes and dreams seem doable.

Boaz listened to Ruth. He asked questions instead of firing accusations. He waited to interpret her behavior through the grid of respect and what he discovered was a gold mine. How can we unleash that sense of discovery in our own homes? Could we, like Boaz, learn to believe the best of those we love? Dare we ban that attitude of distrust we find ourselves so naturally reverting to? What if we choose instead to highlight each other’s value and overlook each other’s flaws? I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of heart I want to come home to.

Whether your home is a suburban house with a husband, children, and a menagerie of pets or an apartment with three roommates, are you making it a place of rest and refuge? Is it time that you, like Naomi, threw off that passive complacency and poured yourself into creating a home for those you are called to love?

Somehow, I think, this longing in our hearts for home may be part of the Father’s plan. He wants to use us to create an alluring glimpse of God’s dwelling place. And that just makes me want to jump in and get to work!


To be continued tomorrow…from my heart,





 How Big is a Scoop?

A pinch of salt, a dash of nutmeg, a dot of butter. We can imitate these in our kitchens. But an ephah of barley? Six measures of grain? Is that a lot or a little? A token or a treasure?

According to historians, an ephah of barley was an enormous amount of grain. It would have weighed between 30 and 50 pounds by today’s measurements. Considering that an average bag of whole wheat flour which we buy at the grocery store weighs about five pounds, Ruth gleaned a lot of grain! In one day, she gathered the equivalent of a month’s ration of grain for the average male worker in Israel.

A measure is uncertain terminology and, in fact, is not specified in the text. Translators filled in the blank with a vague term in order to keep the sentence coherent. He measured six somethings of barley into her upheld cloak. It could have been six shovelfuls or even six omers, which would have equaled about half of what she’d carried home from the fields. Whatever it was, it was more than enough to convince Naomi that Boaz’ intentions were serious. Their days of hunger were over.





What in the world was Ruth up to when she snuck up to the place where Boaz was sleeping, uncovered his feet, and lay down? Was this some sort of sexual seduction? Not at all! Ruth was using a common idiom for a proposal of marriage. The phrase “corner of your garment” is kanap. It is a word which can be applied either to the edge of his covering or as coming under his wings for protection. It is the same word Boaz used in Ruth 2v12 when he admired Ruth for seeking security in God.

Ruth may have been bold, but she was not in any way suggesting something shocking. Boaz response to her proposal was immediately enthusiastic, for he knew exactly what she meant. He had given her plenty of reason to believe that he held a strong affection for her. She was simply encouraging him to pursue his interest. Still, he knew that others could possibly perceive her presence at the threshing floor late at night as inappropriate, so Boaz took steps to protect both her purity and her reputation.

Note: for a really interesting rabbit trail, read what Jesus had to say about measurements in Luke 6v30-38.

The Bible In A Year - Or Ten?


I am a slowpoke.

Not because I’m lazy, though I do have my moments, but because noticing beauty takes time.

When I’m whizzing around getting everything done I miss the beauty God sprinkles along my path. I get all tense and barren. And those dread messages of “not enough” hound my every hurried step.

This morning I was supposed to get through four chapters according to my Bible reading chart. So far I’ve managed 2 verses.

Two cups of tea and 2 verses.

I’ve been reading chronologically through the Old Testament since September. Fascinating to see the story in real time- beginning at the Beginning and reading Job right after the debacle of the Tower of Babel. David’s disasters and the Psalms he wrote in response to God’s rescue plan.

Why haven’t I done this before?

But how can I whisk through poetry? How dare I miss the beauty?

And so I’m not sure I’ll reach the end of the story by the end of my should. And I’m not sure I should.

Maybe what I should do is go at my own pace. A laconic stroll through wisdom... drinking in every sip... swallowing truth I need to know... writing words about what I want to be... because of what He’s done for me.

A slow poke.

I dare not let my self-imposed should’s and ought to’s and supposed to’s make me miss the beauty.

From my heart,


P.S. And you? Have you latched on to a plan for your time in the Word this year? Are you getting up a little earlier to open wisdom and let God sprinkle it into your heart and mind?

I’d love to hear what you’re doing and why. Whether you’re zipping through to get the Big Picture (a wise way to go for sure!) or going slow or maybe a little of both.

P.S.S. And moms-of-little-ones how are you doing it?


The Journey

Ruth 1:6-22

 (Click here to listen to the second teaching in the Ruth study.)

Scene II of our drama brings the spotlight onto the three widows: Naomi, determined to travel back to her land of Israel alone; Ruth, equally determined to find and follow Naomi’s God; and Orpah, uncertain which path to take.

An argument ensues. Naomi, painting the bleakest possible picture of the life that lies ahead, manages to convince Orpah to turn back to the relative safety and security of her old life. Ruth, on the other hand, resolves to forsake all and follow the way of her mother-in-law.

In a beautiful soliloquy which we often hear reiterated at weddings, Ruth declares her intention to go with Naomi, adopting Naomi’s people, land, and God as her own.

Orpah kisses. Ruth clings. 

Orpah turns back. Ruth forges forward.

The path Ruth takes with Naomi is dangerous and filled with hardship. Much like our own determination to follow Jesus, these women must set their eyes on the hope ahead of them in order to endure. They must face each obstacle head on, courageously depending on God to show them the way and give them the strength to move forward.

Our own journey takes a similar road. The prophet Isaiah called it the Highway of Holiness. It is a road where the Redeemed walk safe, though surrounded by “wilderness and desert,” a road leading to a place where, at long last, “sorrow and sighing flee away.”

Come along with these two women who are so much like us. Delve into their story, identify with their fears and failures. Rise up with their hopes and triumphs. These women are here to show us the way to the One who captures our hearts and holds us safe in His love forever.




Colossians 1:9-12

Colossians 2:1-7

Psalm 143 


The Beauty of Kindness

How must Ruth have felt that day as she trudged towards Naomi’s land? She was a despised Moabitess, attempting to slip unobtrusively into the tiny town of Bethlehem. She couldn’t remain unnoticed for long. Everything about her was different: the way she dressed, the way she wore her hair, even the halting way she spoke as she struggled to wrap her tongue around those strange Hebrew vowels. But it was her history that was her undoing.

Ruth the Moabitess.

Her title defined her.

Worlds of prejudice were wrapped up in that word.

All that was evil and immoral,

Dangerous and undignified,

She was a bad woman.

Sometimes I feel summarized in much the same way.

Stuck in a role that everyone expects of me.

A role that chafes and irritates.

A role that confines and defines me.

A role that doesn’t fit very well,

like a too-short t-shirt - so uncomfortable!

And yet, passively, I plod on, doing what I’ve always done, being who I’ve always been, caught in a catch-22 of my own making. What else is a woman to do?

What did Ruth do?

This woman defied the discouraging expectations of others. She didn’t set out to prove them wrong. No speeches about giving her a chance. No long soliloquies explaining herself to her skeptics. She simply served. Quietly, Ruth rebuilt her reputation by serving the one woman who really needed her: Naomi. She broke the bonds of people’s expectations by gathering grain, showing kindness, sharing a meal, and taking initiative.

Doing what she could.

Doing what she should.

She didn’t sit around hoping someone would do the right thing. There was nothing passive about Ruth. That girl just got out there and went to work. I love it!

I love how the Bible, upon a closer look, blows our picture of piety. Ruth is applauded for aggressively going after the lowest job of all - gleaning. Instead of letting this desperate act ruin her life forever, she builds her future on the beauty of her kindness. She entices the man of her dreams not by sexual seduction, but by the sweet allure of servanthood. Rather than allow her history to limit her, she uses it to propel her to greatness.

Now that’s a picture of bold, biblical womanhood!

From my heart,



The Moabites

The Moabites were the archenemies of Israel. Not opponents to be feared or revered, nor foes to challenge the mightiest of their warriors. The Israelites despised these enemies on their border for their weak and deceitful ways. Their lineage didn’t help, descended from the incestuous relationship between Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his oldest daughter. The Moabites were named after the son of that drunken seduction (see that story in Genesis 19:30-38). And their women were the worst.

Their story goes back a ways…

More than 150 years earlier, during the long and arduous trek through the wilderness, Moses had sent a diplomatic envoy to request permission to cross through the land of Edom on what was known as “The King’s Highway.” Even with assurances that the Israelites would not trample their farmland or use up their water, the king refused, sending an imposing force to intimidate the travelers (Numbers 20:14-21). Apparently, Moab was a part of this alliance against the Israelites (Judges 11:17) beginning a blood feud which would last for at least ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3-6).

The biblical portrayal of the character of the Moabites was less than admirable. Proud and arrogant (Isaiah 16:6), idolatrous (1 Kings 11:7), superstitious (Jeremiah 27:3, 9), rich and confident (Jeremiah 48:7), men of war (Jeremiah 48:14), hostile to Israel (Psalm 83:6)-not exactly the kind of people you want living next door.

Tensions between the nations worsened when Balak, king of Moab, called for the prophet Balaam to come and curse Israel. And while Balaam certainly tried, he was unable to effectively cast a curse on this nation who was under the protection and guidance of the Almighty. Yet what havoc the errant prophet was powerless to create through divination, the women of Moab succeeded in wrecking through seduction. The story, found in Numbers 25, began with just “some” men accepting the invitations of the Moabite women to join them in the sexually erotic worship of their gods, but the destruction spread to involve the deaths of 24,000 people in Israel. While Balaam attempted unsuccessfully to turn the Lord against His people, he was sadly successful at turning God’s people away from their Lord. The tragedy struck a stunning blow to the fledgling nation. How a small group of Moabite and Midianite women could seduce thousands of Israelite men away from their declared intention to be faithful followers of Yahweh became the ultimate horror and humiliation for every family in Israel.

Much like pornography today, these people “devoted themselves to shame and they became as detestable as that which they loved” (Hosea 9:10 NLT). Their idolatrous sexual sins are held up once again in the letter to the church in Pergamum, as dangerous deviations from God’s plan to bless their lives (Revelation 2:14-16).

No wonder the Israelites in Naomi’s day looked somewhat suspiciously at her daughter-in-law Ruth. The thought of a young Moabite widow in their small town must have sent tremors through their tight-knit community. Was she a seductress like her ancestors? A blatant heathen who would bring her erotic gods to entice their men? These women would have been understandably reluctant to welcome Ruth into their midst. She would have to prove herself first, and to be very careful to watch her back while she did so.



Notes from my week in Italy:


We are merely moving shadows,

And all our busy rushing ends in nothing…

And so, Lord,

Where do I put my hope?

My only hope is in You.

Psalm 39:7



One thing I am coming to love about Italians is their seemingly peace-filled coexistence with imperfection.

These are people dedicated to beauty. Artists, creators, storytellers, masterpiece makers. They have spent centuries improving this Eden they call Italy.

And yet… nothing is perfect.

Bricks crumble, houses lean, tiles crack, weeds grow. Life happens.

And instead of scrambling to fix it all and paint it all perfect, these people just settle comfortably into their sun-drenched skin and live.

They raise less-than-perfect children in their less-than-perfect houses where they cook less-than-perfect pasta with freshly picked less-than-perfect tomatoes.

Nothing goes to waste.

Who needs massive box stores when the tiny Farmacia down that twisiting lane will sell you 1 roll of skimpy, scratchy toilet paper at a time? And why bother with wash cloths? Or daily showers? A quick rinse of who-knows-what in that thingy-ma-jig in the bathroom and we’re good to go.

And yet beauty is everywhere. Ancient beauty— worn and lived and survived and thrived and lived-a-little-more kind of loveliness.  So different from this gotta-have-every-scratch-covered-over kind of plasticity that drives my life.

I rest here. Breathe a deep sigh of relief from all my striving, my lists, my worry about getting it all done in time to do more…

And this morning while I sit on a cracked stone bench in an untended garden of imperfect artistry, my soul sinks into silence.

List-less. Sun-filled. Quieted.

Cease striving, He whispers.

All your rushing, fixing, improving, redoing, list making, achieving is simply wearing you down, rendering you useless to Me.

I don’t require perfection...

I make beauty in your brokenness when you simply soak Me in.

Of course.

I forgot.


And so I’ll spend this day remembering that all this less-than-perfect world I relish is just a backdrop for His beauty.

And I’ll soak… and cease striving… and know Him.

From my heart,



LETTERS: the drama queen vs. the kind wife

Strength and dignity

 are her clothing,

and she smiles at the future. 

She opens her mouth in wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 

Proverbs 31:25


Dear son,

Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up next to a woman every morning for the rest of your life who “smiles at the future”? A woman who so fully trusts God that even when life is hard and not what she wants, she could find hope and rest? And then spill that bright vision of possibility all over you… and your children… and everyone who steps into her circle of relationship?

Can you imagine what it would be like to live with a woman who is fascinated by you? Who knows who you are with all your flaws and failures, and focuses on the good? Who watches when you mess up and instead of condemning or correcting or sighing or exploding, wraps her arms around you and loves you as you are right then and there?

Can you imagine?

Is that even possible?

Yes, Matt, I believe it is. I believe that a woman can choose to be kind. She’ll mess up sometimes, no doubt, but I believe that God has given every woman who fully gives her life to Him “everything pertaining to life and godliness”. (2 Peter 1:3)

Which means, no woman has to give into all those surging emotions we are born with. We can choose, instead, to bring those wild feelings to the Cross and let God help us work through to wisdom.

It’s not easy. But it’s doable because we serve a Redeemer who never stops redeeming all those raw, wounded, stubborn, self-willed parts of us as long as we let Him.

That said, my dear son, watch out for any woman who has not chosen that path of full surrender. She may be nice and charming and alluring and compelling, but if she’s not fully submitted her will to Him she has the capacity to make your life miserable.

How will you know?

A woman who is still determined to protect herself will be all about herself.

A woman who is determined to submit herself to God will be all about others.

It’s that simple.

Now here are my lists…


  1. The Drama Queen always brings the conversation back to herself, her stories, her accomplishments, her feelings.
  2. The Drama Queen decides how much attention she needs from you and lets you know in no uncertain terms if you’ve failed to give her what she needs.
  3. The Drama Queen is thrilled with your successes because it makes her look good, but she’s intolerant of any areas of your life that she deems less than worthy of her approval.
  4. The Drama Queen justifies explosions or sulking as a means of punishing you or others.
  5. The Drama Queen thinks the world revolves around her needs and therefore your life must revolve around her needs.
  6. The Drama Queen can be incredibly generous, but in the end, all her giving is with the expectation of attention and recognition.


  1. The Kind Woman is all about you. Whoever she’s with gets the full focus of her attention and interest.
  2. The Kind Woman does not demand more than you are able to give, though she may gently and honestly bring her needs to your attention.
  3. The Kind Woman waits a while before she acts on how she feels. She is distrustful of her own emotions and hesitant to make judgments based on how she feels. Instead she brings her feelings before the Father and asks for wisdom.
  4. The Kind Woman is not critical. She sees you in the best possible light, openly admiring the man you are.
  5. The Kind Woman adapts herself to you while remaining fully who she is. She brings her beauty to your vision and enhances your life while delighting in her own.

I do believe such women exist, Matthew, and here’s why: I know these kinds of women. They’re not perfect, but my goodness, they’re wonderful to be around. They are women like your Grandma Ruth. They can often be found serving somewhere behind the scenes— stroll through the children’s area at church and you’ll find a whole bevy of Kind Women. Women who are willing to wipe bottoms and corral kids with a smile on their face. Sometimes you can spot a kind woman loving on “the least of these”, people who are different or annoying or less than ideal.

May I respectfully offer one more word of caution?

Kind women are not always beauty queens. They are inclined to be understated rather than flashy. Their beauty may take a second look to discover. I have seen so many of these kind women emerge into breathtaking beauty by the love of their good husbands. There is something about a man finding you worth pursuing that often causes a woman to do more to enhance her beauty, to do her own version of a makeover in recognition of a man’s love of beauty.

You know I am praying for you, Matt, and for the other men who are in this process of preparing for a wife. Be wise. Be kind yourself. Pay attention. Don’t be passive. There is a woman out there just waiting to join her future to yours.

From my heart,



When my daughter Elizabeth was a little girl she loved to play beside me in the kitchen. Wrapped in a too-large apron, standing on a chair, my little Beth stirred and created and chattered joy beside me.

As she grew older she ignored my closely followed recipes and experimented with ideas of her own. Beetza’s Pizzas were a favorite of her brother’s friends who crowded into our kitchen for more.

Overtime, Elizabeth began to discover both the benefits and the beauty of pure, whole foods. She developed a passion for feeding her own family delicious meals, searching for recipes and inventing her own.

What fun we’ve all had tasting her creations-in-process!

Elizabeth has led the way in our family towards a more God-honoring way of feeding our bodies. She’s helped us to see, in that hope-filled way of hers, the importance of choosing to cook and gather and eat the way we were meant to.

I am proud to learn from my daughter. And I’m thrilled that she’s taking time from her busy life as a wife and mom and ministry leader to share her research and recipes with all of us.

Every Friday Elizabeth will bring us something new. A meal, a treat, a fresh way of preparing what’s in season. She’ll add to our ideas and motivate us to love in the Kitchen.

Now it is my turn to learn at my daughter’s side. Join us, will you?

From my heart,


A TIME TO DANCE: by lauren ruef

Today we have a guest post from a young woman whose transparent search for meaning and value led her to discover her own unique beauty. And since in just a few days the women of Solid Rock will be gathering together to study what the Scriptures have to say about beauty, I thought her story might just resonate with you as it has with me.

At the end of her story, Lauren throws out a few questions that beg answers. Will you take a moment to talk to us, to tell us where you are on your own search for beauty? And then will you come along with us this Saturday morning on the Westside and Saturday evening Downtown to talk some more? I can hardly wait to share with you what I've been learning and how God has surprised me with His wisdom and His reasons for creating His beauty in each of us.

From my heart,


I couldn’t have been more than six. I stood in the bathroom mirror, close enough for my nose to fog up the glass, questioning God. I stared so deep into my own eyes it almost made me dizzy. I searched my hair, my eyebrows and lips for signs that would tell me the future.  What would I look like in a few years and who would I be?

I saw the girlish face staring back at me, the downy hair and soft skin, unblemished by time. What I really wanted to know is what I would be admired for, good at or even proud of? What would define me at 16?  I couldn’t wrap my mind around the immensity of that age. Though I knew the numbers carried significance, they seemed light years away.

After realizing that I could not will myself an answer from staring intently into the mirror, I walked away. But I did not abandon the questions that lingered there.….

As I arrived at the intersection of adolescence and adulthood sometime around early middle school, I looked to my peers to define my self-worth. But as it turns out, middle school kids have ruthless whims of both acceptance and rejection.

And if you were anything like me during this life stage, being “thin” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Having a slight figure for most of my life, I’ve still often accused my body for being “wrong.” Somehow in this culture, it is acceptable to be ridiculed and picked apart for being too skinny, and I weathered enough off-colored comments in my middle school years to know it! Chicken legs; bobble head; money arms.

Turns out my gangly limbs weren’t near enough coordinated to cut a good softball swing or to make a basket, which only resulted in further embarrassment in front of my peers. I just couldn’t do it right. I was an artistic kid, writing journals and illustrated books since kindergarten.

As my peers steadily excelled in athleticism, I felt goofy and left behind. My 7th grade year is about the time I wanted to hide under the bleachers in avoidance of gym class, consumed with nervous energy even at the thought of others noticing how awkward I was in my mesh gym shorts and oversized tee shirt.

Not to mention that middle school is the place where once nice girls suddenly turn mean. It was a well established understanding in my heart by then that I didn’t have “it” whatever “it” was and one girl in particular let me know it. I recall being in art class, my favorite hour of the day, only to hear her persistent mocking over my shoulder at every detail I added to the page. She hated me, and I wasn’t even sure why.

The other girls chimed in on their way back to class, giggling and glancing back at me as I walked alone.  Nothing can diffuse the budding self-confidence of a girl more than this kind of treatment. I wanted to win their approval so desperately, but at the same time protect myself from being utterly demolished by their expectations. Nothing I did was right. Why couldn’t I do it right?

That question plagued me, and I’m sure countless other girls, even the ones that made fun of me. Maybe for someone else it wasn’t sports, it was not having a date to the dance, or being responsible for the odd, dysfunctional family that embarrassed them at parent teacher conferences. Either way, it’s unfortunate that sometimes these kinds of bad experiences can shape our hearts to long for the affection of others before seeking our Heavenly Father, who loves us unconditionally.

High school years were looking up for me as I transferred schools to the neighboring town to gain more from their larger academic offerings and best of all, to enter their competitive dance program. Jazz, Ballet and Hip Hop classes was the air I breathed five days a week, and I found a self-confidence bursting forth on stage that never materialized with a ball and mitt.

I was so relieved to finally be good at something, to escape the tyrannical scrutiny of that girl clique that had poked lies into my heart for so long. I was rid of their voices, and danced my skinny body to its delight! It turns out my long limbs were shaped for the graceful turns and pliés of a dancer, not the rough upending of dirt and grit of sliding into home base.

Sometimes, we are critical of the bodies God has given us before we understand how he wants us to use them. I always think of that time in my life when I truly believed that God made me more insufficient than my peers simply because I couldn’t catch a softball. And all of these thoughts were sadly contingent on what other’s thought of me, or what the bible terms: “the fear of man.”

It has taken me forever to get over these doubts that began in middle school. It would be a lie to say that I have hit rock bottom on my list of insecurities. They keep coming out in ways I don’t expect them to! But you know, one thing is for certain. That when Jesus saw me in that secret, wonderful, mysterious hiding place before the day of my birth, he smiled and knew exactly what he was doing!  As the Psalmist proclaims:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

He is one that guards our hearts, jealously desiring that we seek his approval before anyone else has the chance to get in and make a mess of our hearts. Sufficient to say, it has taken a long time to grasp my beauty and individuality as something God designed and adored since the day of my birth.

I only wish I could’ve seen into the future that day in the mirror, to assure myself that despite a few disgruntled peers and my failure in athletics, that someday God would have me return to a middle school building, but this time as a teacher for an after school dance program where I would boost kids confidence with a little music and let them shake out their silly side. I wish I could’ve seen me grinning from ear-to-ear, leaving the stage after my first choreographed solo performance as a senior in high school.

I believe He wants all of us to ask Him this simple question: what would you make of this life Lord? What do you long to purpose with these limbs, however unfit, or these teeth however crooked? What message of hope would you like to come out of my mouth? What God –honoring work do you have for my hands to find?  I would love to hear your own stories of coming to find your passion, wherever your awkward stage might have fallen in the timeline of your life. As for me, I praise the Lord that middle school is over, and I have a feeling that I’m not alone!