To be a Real Woman

This morning began like any other. I guzzled some coffee, did my mom thing, got a quick workout in, did laundry. At some point when the dust had settled, I sat down for a dose of social media while the Today Show played in the background. There was a post (which I will not link here because there is a curse word in it) from a friend of mine that in essence said a “real woman” is whatever she wants to be rather than curvy or skinny or muscular etc. Meanwhile, the Today Show can’t stop talking about People Magazine’s selection of Lupita Nyong’o as Most Beautiful person of the year.

Lupita Nyong'o - She is beautiful isn't she?

Lupita Nyong’o – She is beautiful isn’t she?

The Today Show host said that Lupita had said in an interview that growing up, she didn’t feel beautiful at all. And it hit me afresh how many women feel this way. How sad that we’ve allowed outside opinion and influence to dictate our identity. I too am guilty of propagating the lie.

Just this morning, I caught myself thinking, as I looked a friend’s photo, “She is such a pretty girl, but she wears WAY too much makeup!” I know I’ve said the opposite as well, “She would be so pretty if she wore a little makeup.” Or “lost weight” or “gained weight” or “dressed better” or…you get the idea.

I’ve propagated the lie inward as well. “I need to lose those last few baby pounds.” “I need shoes like that” “I need a new hairstyle.”…you get the idea. Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with doing things that make you feel confident like getting a new haircut or wearing those outfits that make you feel like you can conquer earth with your awesomeness. I think those things are important and healthy. The problem starts when we believe the lie that we are defined from the outside.

The truth is that a real woman is not defined by her appearance. A real woman is not defined by weight, style, physical attributes, clothing, shoes, hair, makeup. A real woman is defined by who she is, who she was made to be and the God who created her with purpose and destiny.

Maybe if we all realized that we are beautiful just because we were created to carry the beauty of the divine and share that beauty with the world, we would start living a little differently. Think about it, what is more beautiful than a woman stopping to wipe tears from little eyes and help a smile reappear? What is more beautiful than reaching a hand to someone no one else sees and showing them they have value? What is more beautiful than the one who brings food to the hungry, water to the thirsty? When someone stops the chaos for a moment of conversation and tenderness?

When we will stop being distracted by the trivial and start living the eternal? Love is forever.

When we carry the divine, we are beautiful.

I am beautiful because He is beauty and He lives in me.

You Know You’re a Mother When…

1. You check your clothes before you leave the house to see how much goo you happen to be covered in and whether it’s worth the effort to change.

2. You forget to check for you goo until three hours later when you realize you have smashed up graham cracker on your shirt and boogers smeared on your shoulder.

3. You close or open more doors with your feet then you do your hands.

4. You bring a thermos of coffee with you to pick up the kids from school so you don’t fall asleep in car rider line.

5. You have no idea what Pharrell Williams looks like but you know what color every Disney princess wears.

6. You’ve only heard of Pharrell Williams because your teenager was talking about him yesterday.

7. You know all the words to every silly song Larry the Cucumber ever sang.

8. Your family looks like a picture in a magazine other than you…. you haven’t brushed your hair in three days.

9. You based your outfit on how easily you could discreetly nurse a baby.  Consequently you haven’t worn a non-button up dress in months. (Who am I kidding? If it wasn’t for work, you’d live in yoga pants or sweatpants or jammies.)

10. You have hot wheels and Cheerios in your purse or maybe even an extra pair of itty bitty toddler underpants.

11. You have super-human abilities to carry multiple items at once without dropping anything including the wiggly baby on your hip.

12. You realized sleep wasn’t really necessary after all. You haven’t had any in years.

13. A trip to the gym counts as alone time.

 14. You forgot to eat on more than one occasion this week, but it’s okay because the baby shared his graham cracker with you (See #1)

15.  You don’t shy away from challenges. You after all, can do the laundry, play ball, cook dinner, pay the bills and talk on the phone all at once. Most of all, you can untangle one of those plastic slinkys and THAT my friend is a thing of magic.

16. You know all about love and pour it out daily.

17. You know what it is to look on baby faces and little toes and feel completely overwhelmed with gratitude that you were chosen for this awesome adventure that is parenting.

18. You know what it is to feel like you can’t possibly do it all while realizing that what you do daily has lasting meaning. You do your best and hope and pray that God can make something beautiful out of it. And He does!

19. You are blessed!  Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward!” Proverbs 31:28 “Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her”

Smile Mom! You’re doing great!

Life Beyond Comfort

When the comfortable numb ceases to be comfortable, we can choose to escape and join the living or we can choose to delve deeper into denial. It is possible to stuff feelings into caverns we visit only when useful for some advantage. We can justify the remnant with clever notions about self preservation. But to truly feel is an adventure for the bravest of souls. To live deeply unafraid of the breaking takes resolve and courage.

We continue steadfast into the fray while the waves of life beat us hard into jagged edges of rock and earth. We continue to focus on prizes unseen though our eyes flinch to blink at offenses hurled at us headlong.

We will not be silenced when the night begs for songs of praise. We will not grimace at the need set before us as we offer more than what logic compels us to bring to the table of the hurt and lonely or sick and tired.

We will look past the present to the hope of glory when all seems stacked against us…when the walls we’ve built crumble to dust around us…when our towers of achievement turn to pillars of salt good only to season us with grace.

We will fight passed normal to the place where life begins, where we end. The place where our plans give way to his purpose.

There we will find the fullness of joy.

Secret Place

I had my own private spot in the woods where two trees had fallen together creating a little seat just right for me. I would sit there for what seemed like hours singing and praying. It was there that all seemed right with the world. It was there, in my secret place, that I found my solace, meaning…peace. It was there that I began to know God. There, God could be felt, His presence overwhelming my soul. It was almost tangible. It filled the air like fragrance, the sweet incense of grace, permeating my heart until all doubts disappeared. Those moments in my secret place shaped my life forever.

It’s easy to forget when we’re running. There are kids to wrangle, clothes to wash, meals to prepare and we are spinning in circles wondering where the day went. Chasing after daylight like the last shadows melting away too soon. Yet, in the midst of the madness, the lover of our soul has prepared a place. It is there, in the middle of it all, that He waits, knocking softly on the door of our hearts. It is there, we can find our rest.

All it takes is a moment in His presence to ease the ache of overused feet. One moment with Him and all that seems too much becomes just enough because He is enough. Search for Him today. Find your secret place where He calls to you. Dance with Him as He rejoices over you with singing. Run with Him through flowery fields. Sit with Him on the dock and watch the sunset. Wherever He calls, answer and you will truly live.

Don’t Settle for Seasoning

ImageThere once was a man named Naboth. You’ll find him in I Kings 21. He had a vineyard. The only problem with this vineyard was that it was just a little too close to the residence of a certain king named Ahab. Ahab decided he wanted an herb garden and offered to buy Naboth’s vineyard. Naboth refused and Ahab started pouting. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, arranged for Naboth to be killed. Ahab got his vineyard and Elijah prophesied the death of Ahab and his entire line. That sums up the chapter.

This got me thinking. So often we see fruit in someone else’s life and we want that. There’s a catch to having fruit though. Fruit comes from walking in Spirit. It takes us dying to us and living for God and others. It’s a lot easier to want herbs. Herbs give a hint of flavor, they taste good but don’t necessarily nourish. It’s easy to say we’re Christians. It’s easy to be nice people (most of the time). We’re good people right? But, true religion is this, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27.

Galatians 5:22-26 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Today, let’s not settle for seasoning. Today, let’s go ALL IN! Walk in the Spirit and grow a vineyard.

Sweet Tea

sweet tea

This is a guest post from my daughter. I couldn’t resist sharing. She is fourteen and a lot like her mama.

Sweet Tea

Cut me open and what will you see? An entire gallon of sweet tea.

When I’m at a restaurant in despair I know that sweet tea will be there

When I’m old dying all I need is an IV filled with sweet tea

Why am I writing this poem you ask? Because sweet tea will always last.

While divorces go through
And love fades away
A path, sweet tea, will pave.

I know this is crazy and slightly obsessive but hey sweet tea’s a blessing

With sugar so sweet and lemon so sour it’s in sweet tea that I will shower.

With my heart filled with glee, sweet tea is bæ, don’t judge me, okay?

-Rachel Woodland

Tapestry

I am a tapestry

Woven together, each fiber of my life until only beauty remains

Each color and hue lending to the whole

A piece of the picture you designed throughout the artistry of time

I’ve been pattered with purpose

Knit together with meaning

All I am rests in the hand of a loving craftsman

I am a masterpiece in the making

Psalms 139:1-18 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

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.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

Lack of Words

All my words have been taken captive. Pirates of time and their productivity minions have me locked in a cave of clean rooms and financial reports stifling all aspects of my creativity. I think I can see light peeking in through the opening. Soon I will knock the guard out and take back what’s rightfully mine, my freedom. At that time, I’ll be back here, sharing all the fruits of my creative bottleneck with you. In the meantime, I apologize for my silence. I’ll beat those pesky pirates yet.