Monday, April 29, 2013

When you Make the Wrong Choice and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria party!
This is a place where women gather to encourage each other to live authentically,
sharing our heartbreaks, our joys, and the wisdom from God that sustains us.
Please, link up your heart with ours and encourage other's before you leave.
If you would like to be a part of a Soli Deo Gloria small group, now is a great time to join.
Click here for more details.
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I feel like a hypocrite.  Why do you ask?  Because I spoke a fervent truth to my sweet friend yesterday and I am drowning today in those exact same lies that she was believing.

The truth is I'm not exactly drowning anymore.  If I was drowning, I'd blow off writing this post, and probably just aimlessly wander around my house, looking like I was cleaning it, but probably just moving dust bunnies from one side of the room to the other.

Instead, I've decided to clean this house.  What better tool to weed out lies than God's Word?  I started aimlessly picking through the Bible in what was, at first, a half-hearted attempt to find Truth.  Because at least I got far enough out of the rapids to realize what I am feeling isn't Truth (and thank God for that).

My eyes fell upon this verse from Romans 8:19:
"For creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are."
One day, friends, we will be free from death and decay.  And I don't think that's limited to old-age, frailty, and grief.  I think it's also a promised freedom from competition, inadequacy, and comparison.

How many of you need freedom from those things?

How many of you have a least one thorn in your side you wished with all your might you could pluck out for ever? 

How many of you could deal without having grief, decay, and a slowly decomposing body (right now, I'm lamenting my running out of natural hair color)?

Today, I've been giving into the lure of comparison.  I've been calling myself names like inadequate, underserving, not-quite-good-enough.  I could blame the enemy, the father of lies, but you know, there is someone else to blame.

Me.

I've let him back me in a corner.  I've let him point this finger at me.  I've been the one looking at the stats, reading the Facebook and Twitter feeds, measuring success.  I'm the one that have accepting my feelings as Truth.

That's all me.

Because God has equipped me.  He's done His job.  He's laid out my armor every day since the beginning of time, just as I used to lay out clothes for my children.  But I've decided today that it wasn't really that cold or harsh outside so I'd just skip the extra covering.

Wrong choice, Jen.  It's when we think we'll be fine on our own that God gets the life preservers ready to throw.  It's going to be a rough ride.  How easily our human nature loses hope.  How easily our sin causes us to covet and measure and scale.  How easy it is for us to be lured into trap after trap.  We are all vulnerable unless we choose not to be. Unless we choose God's Word over our feelings, over our perception, over worldly standards.

I'm ready for the day when God would reveal who His children really are -- when we are free from the way the world sees us, when we are running unecumbered the race He has set out for us, when we spend not one day lamenting what we do not have.

I'm wondering if part of verse 19 is actually available to us now.  No, we will not be able to escape the growing older and the decaying of our physical bodies, but I do believe that we can begin to know on this earth who we really are, who God designed for us to be.  And I mean not just giving lip-serivce, but believing with our whole entire hearts, sisters, that He has designed good things for us and in us, even if they don't look that spectacular through the eyes of the world.

But who cares what the world thinks.  It's not like it's God, even though it might think it is.  Even though we might ourselves give it that stature.

Today, right now, I'm repenting of having wandering eyes that tend to fixate on glittery success.  Repenting is stopping my journey down one road, turning around, and heading in the opposite direction.  And so now, all that is in my vision is the face of Jesus.

And I am running.


T.R.U.S.T. Question: What are your traps that lure you away from believing God's Truth about you?

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Are you new here? Welcome! We'd love to shower you with some love and encouragement, so if this is your first time linking up, will you put "I'm New!" as your caption under your linky picture? Want more info on what this sisterhood is all about? Click here.
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Want to show a sister some love? Tweet her post using the Twitter handle #sdgsisters. Make sure you check the # later for some great posts to read!
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Flashy Not Required


Jen, Cindy, and Jeri at Speak Up! last summer
I spent hours.  I mean hours on my one sheet.

First, I had to find out what a ‘one sheet’ was.  Then I had to figure out my layout.  Find the perfect profile picture. Fill in all the appropriate text boxes I had placed strategically.  Choose graphics that would make me stand out and be descriptive of me and my book.

I had to be flashy.  Make a good first impression.  Be unique.

I took my one sheet and sat myself down in front of the acquisitions editor at Speak Up!  I told her my story.  I laid out my heart.  I divulged pretty much the whole journey of my husband’s porn addiction.

And she found a typo.  And she strongly disliked my “unique” profile picture.  Oh, and the title of the book. 

So much for a flashy first impression.

Want to find out how God showed up through this encounter?  I'm over at Cindy's place today talking about my time at Speak Up! last year.  Click here to continue reading.  And even if my teaser isn't enough to lure you over there, maybe this will:  Cindy is giving away 10 partial scholarships to this year's Speak Up! event and a phone call with Carol Kent.  So get going now...go enter to win!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

beheld in a different Light: God's Affirmation through a Stranger

There is beauty everywhere, but so often we look through the eyes of the world, and we simply miss it...or maybe dismiss this beauty because it does not seem to hold up to the standards that our society has created.  But what if we take the words of Romans 12: 1-2 seriously and we get serious about not conforming to the patterns of this world, but instead, we let our minds be transformed by the Spirit.  What if we allow God to bend and mold us, what if we allow Him to touch our eyes so that we might see again in new light, what if we prepare our hearts to be astounded by what He has created?  What if we become astounded by ourselves, not with a sense of selfish pride, but with heartbeats of gratitude?  What if we let God's Word lavish our souls with wonder and amazement?  What if we believe Him when He tells us that we are beautiful and that we are His?
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Jenn Hand's family has been through a lot lately.  Her dad spent 31 days in the hospital with acute leukemia.  Then a week later her sister and her sister's husband, with her 4 year old nephew and 6 month old niece, had a deer come through their window at 55 miles an hour. But even though Jenn was dealing with her family's health issues and car accidents, she still thought of us and made us this video about the time when God told her she was beautiful. It is an amazing story -- I was moved to tears.  

video
email subscribers, click here to view the video

Jenn wanted me to add a note or two here.  First, she wanted to apologize for her niece crying (same niece as the one in the car wreck -- I don't think anyone hear watching/reading would have it any other way.  There is LIFE in those cries, Jenn) and for the leaf that fell in her eye.  And she wanted me to post this:   "I am realizing that real beauty is found in the precious moments of celebrating life because it can change in an instant.  Love my Soli Deo Gloria sisters."

We love you, too, Jenn.  Grateful for you and all you do to minister to His people.

You can connect with Jenn on her blog, Coming Alive Ministries, by clicking here.

Linking with Emily and Tracy today.

Monday, April 22, 2013

hoping is waiting and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria party!
This is a place where women gather to encourage each other to live authentically,
sharing our heartbreaks, our joys, and the wisdom from God that sustains us.
Please, link up your heart with ours and encourage other's before you leave.
If you would like to be a part of a Soli Deo Gloria small group, now is a great time to join.
Click here for more details.
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You might also know this verse to read like this:
"Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength." (NASB)
What is the difference between HOPE and WAIT?  Nothing, if you are looking at the original Hebrew text.  In this part of Isaiah, he uses the Hebrew word qwh, which means to hope in or hope for.

To hope in God is the same as waiting for God.

When we wait for Him and hope in Him, He renews our strength.

I don't know about you, but when I put my hope in things of this world and when I try to manipulate circumstances or opportunities so that I will feel peace, I fail miserably.  In fact, I end up quite the opposite of how I had planned to be -- stressed out, tired, short-tempered.

This all came to a head a few weeks ago when I was struggling with fear that my husband was becoming a wee bit lackadaisical in his chapter writing progress.

In essence, I had set a schedule and I expected him to follow it. 

When he did not perform as I had hoped, I became a wee bit of a nagging wife.  I was AFRAID he was not accomplishing what he needed to and, truth be told, I also began to let my imagination get the best of me.

What if he's not writing because he gave into temptation?  What if he's having second thoughts about this book?  What if he's never going to write anything?  What if he's pulling away from me?  What if I have to start nagging him incessantly and he really does pull away from me and the book never gets published and I look like a fool and everybody will just shake their head at me and call us a failure and...

I don't know how you feel after reading that, but after writing it, I feel pretty exhausted.  Not renewed.  Worn out from imposing my own will on someone else because of my own fear.

Many times I don't practice waiting because I am too busy fearing.  You?

Somehow I have convinced myself that if I don't do something, nothing will happen.  You?

Lots of times I pull up my martyrdom britches, heave the heavy load of the weight of the world on my shoulders, and think I have no strength left to renew.  You?

All over the Bible God says that He's got a plan and we can follow it.  And this plan is for good and not for evil.  It's filled with a bright future and loads of hope.  So maybe that means loads of waiting, too, but I think I'm just fine if it means I'm waiting for something good.

And yet, I forget.  You?

I forget because waiting can seem so tedious.  The lack of knowing can feel overwhelming.  It's easy to give up when I forget who is in charge.

But that is the beauty of sisterhood, yes?  We can surround ourselves with people who remember when we cannot.

Who can you encourage today with His Word and His promises?  Who can you help remember?


T.R.U.S.T. Question: What are you trying to move and shift on your own strength? Can you come to a place where you wait and see how God moves first? What does that look like in your situation?

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Are you new here? Welcome! We'd love to shower you with some love and encouragement, so if this is your first time linking up, will you put "I'm New!" as your caption under your linky picture? Want more info on what this sisterhood is all about? Click here.
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Want to show a sister some love? Tweet her post using the Twitter handle #sdgsisters. Make sure you check the # later for some great posts to read!
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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Because we always have a choice


What will you choose today?

 Linking with Sandra and Deidra this weekend.  Join us for some stillness?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

beheld in a different Light: beauty in cancer

There is beauty everywhere, but so often we look through the eyes of the world, and we simply miss it...or maybe dismiss this beauty because it does not seem to hold up to the standards that our society has created.  But what if we take the words of Romans 12: 1-2 seriously and we get serious about not conforming to the patterns of this world, but instead, we let our minds be transformed by the Spirit.  What if we allow God to bend and mold us, what if we allow Him to touch our eyes so that we might see again in new light, what if we prepare our hearts to be astounded by what He has created?  What if we become astounded by ourselves, not with a sense of selfish pride, but with heartbeats of gratitude?  What if we let God's Word lavish our souls with wonder and amazement?  What if we believe Him when He tells us that we are beautiful and that we are His?
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2001

“Tracy, your mother’s on the phone, do you want to take her call?”

That is strange… my mother never calls while I am at work.

“Hi mom…”
“Tracy… it’s… it’s… falling out.”
My mother was weeping.
“Mom, what is falling out?”

“My hair, it is coming out in clumps. I was taking a shower and now it is all over the bathtub. Your dad is at work and I am here by myself. I just need to hear your voice…”

The lump in my throat grows thick. I will not lose control of my emotions.
I picture her naked laying on the floor of her bathtub.
Scared.
Alone.

“Tracy, are you there? Should I keep pulling it out?”
“Oh mom, I will sit here with you while you do. You’re going to be ok. I am with you…”
“Ok… Tracy, I feel so ugly.”

Minutes pass.
I cry silently on the other end.

“Tracy, I think I am done.”
“Mom…
mom, you are and will always be beautiful to me.”

2007-October 7, 2012

My mother’s hair returned, but so did the breast cancer.
Now it was all over her body.
More hair was lost and more chemo was taken.
There were days when my mother needed to hear my voice because her pain was great and because her reflection repulsed her.
My answer remained the same: “Mom you are and will always be beautiful to me.”

October 8, 2012

It hurts to look at what remains of my mother’s body. I rub her bald head and grasp the skeletal remains of the hands that first held me.
It’s just me and her in the room.
I am not sure what to do with the silence.
The lump in my throat is growing.
I will not lose my emotions.
I am her daughter and I hate cancer.
But I love a God who is good and gracious. What doctors said was impossible, He made possible. He honored countless prayers.
Jesus is coming to free and heal her now…

+11:00 am
I lean in close so she will be sure to hear me. She can no longer speak or open her eyes.
I know that she needs to hear my voice
one
more
time.  
“Mom… I am here now. I am so thankful God chose you to be my mom. It’s time for you to go home to Him now. You are and will always be beautiful to me.”
And then I sing “Amazing Grace” and “Jesus loves Roxie” over her again and again…

+1:25 pm
My mother won her battle against breast cancer.
She beheld Beauty, literally.
Her suffering ended.
Her questions answered.
Her joy is unending.

March 28, 2013

I stand beside my grieving father as we clean out my mother’s side of the closet. Her clothes smell of her perfume. I quickly place the shoes she wore to my wedding in a trash bag. To stop and hold them is painful. Her High school ring and pearl necklaces are still here with me. But my mother is gone from me, temporarily.
Memories overwhelm me.
The lump in my throat returns.
This time I let my tears fall and I remember.
I remember beholding my mother’s beauty.
Cancer couldn’t kill the beauty of her courage or the beauty of her faith and trust in God.
Beauty cannot be purchased in a bottle, achieved by a diet, or purchased off the rack.
Beauty isn’t skin deep, it is soul deep.
My mother will always be beautiful to me.

I have beheld Beauty now.
Praise You, Jesus.


(keep reading for a giveaway below)

Tracy is proudly married to Chad, a pilot in the United States Air Force.  Whenever they are not being relocated, she loves to drink green tea and watch re-runs of LOST. She also enjoys chasing their two children, Jackson (4) and Katherine (2), throughout their toy-infested home.  Tracy graduated from Phoenix Seminary in 2005, and served as the Director of Student Women at Scottsdale Bible Church from 2005-2007. She is also the author of Images of His Beauty, a newly released Bible Study, for young women who struggle with self-image issues and eating disorders. You can find out more information about the study and follow her blog at www.onedegreeministries.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OneDegreeMinistries, or chat with her via twitter @tracy_steel.
Tracy is graciously donating one copy of her book, Images of His Beauty.  It's actually more than a book -- it's a bible study for young women desiring to find hope and healing in Jesus Christ.  It helps young women who struggle in any way with their beauty, but also specifically helps those who are battling eating disorders (or trying on behaviors that come with eating disorders).  This bible study can be done individually or in a group setting and its foundation on scripture truly covers our hearts with His abounding love so that we might see just who and how He created us to be.  Discussion/reflection questions are probing to our deep heart issues that interfere with seeing ourselves how He sees us.  If you would like to win this book for you, a friend in need, or your church, please use the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Teens and Porn, Part II

Looking for the SDG Party?  Just scroll down one more post.

It’s going to be uncomfortable, both for you and for them.  Your stomach might be in knots, your palms sweaty, and about 50 times, you will ask yourself if you really have to have this conversation with your teen about pornography.

Yes, unfortunately, you do.  And here is why:

{1}  As we talked about in the last post about porn, the chance is high that your teen has been or will be exposed to porn.  Accidental exposure or intentional exposure is still exposure and they are going to need your guidance so they can avoid its clutches.

{2}  Porn affects how people view women.  If you have a daughter and she views porn, she’s just found a whole new raft of people to whom she can compare herself.  Does she know that much of what she has seen as been altered, enhanced, shaved, perfected?  Does she know the often cruel conditions in which many of these “stars” live? Does she know that women are not meant to be dominated, controlled, or slaves?  If you have a son, what expectations will he have of his wife or his girlfriend?  What happens when the luster wears off or there is weight gain and stretch marks?  

What are the other 2 reasons?  Come join me at The Whatever Girls.  We will continue our conversation over there.  (comments closed here so we can all chat there)