mirror imageProverbs 31:30-31 reminds us that, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

I, like many of you reading this, have had a struggle with my body image. I’m not sure when it started, maybe one day my Mom was changing my diaper and she said something like, “Look at those chubby legs!” And off I went, thinking that I would have those chubby legs forever!

Or maybe it came from years of watching my Mom go through diet after diet, and gimmick after gimmick trying to get to where she liked how she looked. I remember in the 1970’s, she went on a grapefruit diet. Supposedly this diet worked because of a fat – burning enzyme that is only found in the grapefruit.  This fad took off and became the thing to do, probably because, as long as you ate ½ of a grapefruit or ½ cup of grapefruit juice, you could eat anything else you wanted (within an 800 calorie per day limit) and  lose weight. And no exercise required! Needless to say, that didn’t last very long and whatever weight was lost was soon put back. After all, you can only eat so many grapefruit!

I used to love to eat the sweet caramel and chocolate weight loss candy that Mom kept around. You were supposed to eat one right before each meal to curb your appetite, but I would sneak two or three throughout the day, just because they were really good!

There was even one time that Mom had her ear stapled and every time she got hungry, she had to tap her staple to make her not want to eat. And I wonder where my lack of body image came from?

She taught me how to iron my hair (literally!) so that it wouldn’t be so curly. And she tried every color of dye on my hair. I remember when I was thirteen I sat  in a beauty shop chair for eight hours while the beautician tried to bleach the red out of my hair. Needless to say, the best she could do was what they called “strawberry blonde.” Once a red – head, always a red head!

So many of us live as reflections of how our Mom’s felt about themselves. We struggle with seeing our bodies as less than perfect no matter how much weight we lose. There is danger in the words we speak to our children, especially our daughters, when those words are anything less that positive.

I have to wonder where it all started, and why. I remember as a child watching shows such as “Lassie”, “Father Knows Best”, and “The Brady Bunch” where the main women of the show were of average size and dressed modestly. They were confident in their role in the family and I don’t remember any of them pausing in front of a mirror and saying, “Gee, this dress makes me look fat!.” (Unless, of course, that was the topic of the show and then there was always a moral outcome that showed the woman’s true beauty came from within.) Somewhere along the line we have convinced ourselves that the scale is our

My Mother – in – law bought me a juicer for my birthday one year. Not sure why. Maybe it was because I said I wanted a juicer so that I could get healthy. And she believed me.

Anyway, my hubby was on a fishing trip recently and I decided to pull the juicer out of its hiding place and get started on my new healthy lifestyle. I opened my juice book, highlighted a few really healthy recipes and made out a shopping list. Even the titles of the juices made me feel instantly healthy: Potassium Power, Nature’s Wash, , and Bone Builder’s Cocktail. I feel healthy already just reading the recipes! I threw in the Green Drink ingredients and headed to the market.

I strolled down the produce aisle of my local grocer and started putting items in my cart: parsley, ginger, Granny Smith apples, spinach, celery, beets, cabbage and kale (oh, so that’s what kale looks like!), just to name a few. I couldn’t wait to get home!

It was dinner time when I finished carrying in the basket load of goodness from my Jeep. I decided I would start with the Green Drink since it seemed to have the most vegetables in it. I don’t know why, but I associated the vegetables with a heartier dinner.

The recipe called for a handful of parsley (or wheatgrass, but even I wasn’t going that far on the first try!), two Granny Smith apples, two kale leaves, and a handful of spinach. At the top of the ingredients was the saying, “When you are green inside, you are clean inside!” I certainly hoped it was true as I put the parsley in first and watched as the juicer separated a slimy dark green juice into the juice cup. I then put one apple in. I guess they went that way so that I wouldn’t give up. Then the kale and spinach and just when I didn’t think I could look at the resultant juice one more minute, I put the second apple in. Whew! The juice was not too bad looking, actually, once everything was added. I couldn’t wait to try my concoction and start on my journey to health.

I had a towel in my hand and I had not noticed that the edge of the towel was lodged under the juice cup – there’s that aging eye thing again. As I turned to get a glass to pour my healthy drink into, the towel pulled the cup over and I looked with startled amazement at the green juice spilling out all over my counter. My life flashed before my eyes and all I could see were the monsters in the 1968 science fiction movie, The Green Slime. Green juice started sliming its way down the front of my dishwasher and onto the floor. It hid under the coffee pot and proceeded to chase the paper towels I was trying to mop it up with. When I finally got the mess cleaned up, I opened a can of spaghetti and meatballs, covered it with cheese and stuck it in the microwave. I’ll start all over tomorrow, but today I need comfort food.

Some days you eat salads and go to the gym, some days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants.

It’s called balance.

I hate how I see myself in a mirror. And yet, it was brought to my attention (by my loving daughter) that I subconsciously do the same thing to her that my mother did to me. Oh, I have never forced any of my children to dye their hair or use diet aids, but I have seen their faces when I make a remark about me. When I say, “I hate to go swim suit shopping, I’m just never satisfied with how I look,” they hear, “Maybe I don’t look so good in a swim suit, either.” When I say, “I can’t make this curly hair do what I want it to,” they hear, “Ugh! My hair never looks good.” You see, my girls have genetic traits that I gave them. If I don’t like how I look, and speak of it often, how can I expect them to like the way they look? And they are beautiful!

Ladies, we are responsible for teaching our daughters that however God made us, he made us beautiful. We are to love ourselves first so that they will know how to love themselves. This is a huge responsibility that can only be accomplished through much prayer and soul searching.

And if we are not eating healthy, then it’s time to start, but not in a way that is defining how we look. We should eat healthy to define how we feel! The scale is not your friend, but your energy level is. Our blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and heart rate are all indicators of good health. If we are eating with these in mind, we will be healthy just as God designed.

Looking back to the opening verse in Proverbs 31, our works are the words that we speak in front of our daughters. We teach each day how these impressionable young girls will face the world and we must teach them that we are not measured by our outward appearance, but by our inner spirit. God should be the mirror that we face each morning, face – to – face, and then we, and our daughters, will know in full how beautiful we truly are.



Where are my glasses, I need to take a bath!

Top-10-Images-of-Animals-Wearing-Glasses-10“A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.” Isaiah 40:6

I have learned that my glasses cannot be too far from me when I take a shower. At any given time, I have washed my hair in body lotion and my face with conditioner. You should have seen the frantic rinse the day I realized I had conditioned my hair with a popular ladies hair remover! And, of course, my husband had to be standing next to me the day we were getting ready for church when I sprayed hair spray under my arm and put deodorant on my hair! The look on his face was priceless as he shook his head and went to start the car.

My adventures with “aging eyes” is nothing compared to an experience our pastor told us about, though. He and his family were out to eat at a local restaurant and, being the friendly fellow that he is, he returned a wave from someone across the room. When his wife asked who he was waving to he replied, “Well, I don’t know, but they waved first!” The family turned to see who it was, but then slowly turned back around to see Dad with his hand still waving. They looked at each other and one brave child had to say it, “Dad, that’s not a person waving to you. It’s a cactus.”

Aging eyesight. If you haven’t faced it yet, get ready. I don’t know why the manufacturers use the same marketing techniques to get sales and make all the bottles the same shape and color, don’t they know we usually don’t wear glasses when we shower or bathe? If they could only put a bright red dot on the conditioner and the deodorant, maybe I could remember the difference without looking. Or maybe not.

I guess I was in my mid to late 40’s when my near vision started becoming problematic. I ignored it for as long as I could, but when I had to ask Jim to hold the menu so I could order, I knew I needed reading glasses. Over the years, my eyes have succumbed to aging and now I have to wear the dreaded glasses all the time. If I didn’t, not only would I need help with the menu, but my whole plate would disappear into a fog of nothingness.

So, wear glasses I do. However, I make adjustments. While I was still working I made sure that I had black rimmed, professional glasses that everyone thought were fake. They thought that I wore them to get intelligence points, and I just let them think it. I would show up at regional meetings and while the Director was filling us in on the most recent project, I would take my glasses off, stick just a little bit of the ear piece between my lips and sit there and nod intelligently. “Yes, yes, I am super – smart and I am hanging on every word.” Little did they know that I couldn’t even SEE the Director let alone the chart I am assuming he was pointing to!

Isn’t it amazing the lengths we will go to for vanity? When I was fifty, and people said I looked thirty – five, I would smile smugly and say, “Oh, I’m fifty years old and proud of every year.” Well, now I’m starting to look my real age, time has a way of doing that, and I crave to hear people tell me that I look so much younger. I caught a glimpse of myself in a candid side-shot photo that I took of my hubby and me when we were working on  one of his odd-jobs and I almost cried. It had been raining so my curly, gray hair had frizzed around my temples and I had that stern “Grandma face” because I was concentrating on holding up the screen door we were installing. I had to look twice because I couldn’t believe it was me with the frizzy gray hair and sallow complexion. And when did I get that extra chin? I went into a slight depression and pouted most of the rest of the day.

That evening my hubby looked at me as we sat on the porch and said, “You know, I don’t know how you do it, but you are more beautiful than the day we married.” I couldn’t help but think of the saying I had heard somewhere to “marry a man your own age; that way as your beauty fades, so does his eyesight!” But then, I realized that he had his glasses on and was looking at the same side-shot view of me as the photo taken earlier in the day. But he didn’t see what I saw. What he saw was his bride; the love of his life, and I thanked God.

I know that in the world’s eyes, my beauty is fading. But I smile, because in my husband’s eyes, I am beautiful. In God’s eyes, I am his princess. And in my own eyes, I am blessed to have lived as long as I have.  These are days that God has made just for me, and I will not waste them by counting the spring rolls around my waist.

God has given each of us a certain number of days to live on earth. I feel that as I mature in chronological years, I also mature in spiritual years. The lessons I learn by looking into a mirror can be summed up in this statement from 1 Corinthians 13:12, “ For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  My Friends, the years that God has given to each of us, are written line by line. They may be lines of worry or lines of peace; lines of sorrow or lines of peace; lines of anger or lines of peace. God gives each of us the ability to partake of His bountiful peace. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3. And there is nothing wrong with having a few wrinkles on our faces, they show that we have laughed, cried, frowned, and lived all in one lifetime. We can trust in God and He will soften the lines.

Aging gracefully is not an easy task. Just like accepting that I needed to wear glasses, I fought it tooth and nail! But, at that time, I was looking in the mirror dimly. I was placing value on what I look like on the outside, not what God saw on the inside. Face to face. With God. Cleared my vision. God knows me, and I am starting to know me, too. I have opened my eyes to the fact that vision is so much more than what I see in this world. I have asked God to increase the vision that He wants me to have in these latter years of my life. I want to see opportunity in what I would previously have seen as rejection. I want to take each failed plan as God showing me that He has something much more planned than I could ever have seen without Him. I want to see reason behind a friendship that has gone cold. I want to see positive where there is negative. And if I do all of this, then I can’t help but be satisfied with the image that I see in my mirror. I will no longer use my age as an excuse to be sullen and sad, but will glorify God in living the fullness of every day that He has given me.

Before I look in the mirror, I will put on my “grace glasses”. I will not see frizzy gray hair, but I will see wisdom highlights. I will remember that the secret to aging gracefully is to enjoy it.



My Time is in His Hand

time in hand.jpg“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!”

Psalm 31:14-15

I have learned a lot these past three months. God has allowed me to go through a very tumultuous time of sickness; not my own, but my husband’s. My better half, to whom I lean on for support, wisdom, and just plain fun times, suffered not only a herniated disc that immobilized him for two months, but also life threatening blood clots in both lungs coupled with double pneumonia. I felt as if the enemy (Satan) was coming against us from every angle.

My first lesson came early in December when I realized that I now had to pick up many of the chores that my hubby did without thinking: lugging the garbage cans to the curb for pick up, putting salt on the outside steps before they iced over, and trying to keep the electric fence mended so that our precious Scruffy stayed within safe boundaries are just a small sample. Along with this came the responsibility of getting hubby to the doctors and hospitals, managing his medications, and arranging the house so that he could maneuver with a wheelchair. So, what was the lesson? I did all of this out of what I thought was love for my husband, but what God showed me through reading His Word was that I was doing it out of a selfish desire to prove I could manage it all. I had lost sight of the ultimate prize: God’s glory through tribulation.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”  Philippians 3:14-16

God showed me that even though I love my husband and would do anything in the world to help him, deep down inside of me, I had not turned this service over to Him. I was providing all of my time for me; not for Jim, andnot for God. I prayed for healing, but I did not trust that God would heal. I trusted in my own care to make my hubby comfortable. I trusted in my own management skills to take the pain away. And I trusted in me to be the relief that my hubby needed.

I praise God for teaching me that there is so much more to serving others than the actual service; service should be the result, but the goal is fully living in Christ and letting go of self.

The second lesson God gave to me was that Satan has no more hold on me than I allow him. When I released my service as a wife to God, Satan lost his power of my thoughts and emotions. I no longer felt that I had to be the one to bring my hubby out of depression and fear. I knew that I had to be the conduit that God used to open his eyes to the possibilities of what God was doing and instill trust in God’s sovereignty. I was called to live my life strong in the Lord and not in myself.

“Finally, be strong in theLord and in the strength of his might.”            Ephesians 6:19

I have often read Job just because I seek to understand how he lived. Job was a man of honor, he never turned his back on God. God trusted Job so much that He allowed Satan to tempt him to sin by turning away from God. I believe that my desire to read this text in some way helped me to get through these three months. Oh, I didn’t face anything like Job did; I didn’t lose my children, my home, or my health. But in this milquetoast world that we live in today, my spoiled self went through quite a trial.

Finally, I learned that time is nothing. Three months or three years or three hundred years; it all belongs to God, not to us. And the only reason we are put on earth is to walk hand in hand with Him and to do all things to the glory of God, not self.


A prayer of thanksgiving

Praying Woman“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Colossians 3:16

Father God, to me every day is a day for giving thanks. You have blessed me beyond anything I could have ever hoped for.

But, America sets aside one day each year as a conscious reminder of how we are blessed to live in America. You brought us to this country so that we could worship You freely and without condemnation.

So many others around the world do not have this freedom and I want to lift each person up to You for guidance, safety, and fulfillment of your promises in their life. Some will be martyred today, before the sun sets on them, for their belief in the One true God. Others will continue to live in fear as they gather in secret to worship and learn more about You as they study the Bible and pray.

God, I pray that someday, around the world. that each country will have a designated thanksgiving day. A day when they were given the freedom to worship You and share their faith with others.

And Father God, let every American start this Thanksgiving Day on their knees, truly thanking God that we live in America. Let their focus be on all that You have freely given to us and let the Holy Spirit speak to each Christian on how we can give back to You this coming year. Ask us how to live life in a way that is not taking our freedom for granted, but using it as a means to live a life reflecting your Son, Jesus Christ, who provided that freedom. Let us come together as one Christian body. Bring a revival to America, Lord, and let it begin in me.

In Jesus’ Name I pray,



God is Greater

Devastation of man.jpg“Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man.”

Job 33:12

Last year our beloved Smokey Mountains were ablaze with fire. The devastation that man’s carelessness caused broke my heart as I traveled around Roaring Fork Trail and captured the charred remains of  age old trees. I wanted to cry. But as I hiked up the side of the mountain and looked out over the scene before me, my focus went from the burned stubble to the new life springing up all around. Sprigs of pine trees dotted the mountain floor and other green vegetation poked sturdy heads above the earth. I took this picture, because it spoke God’s life into me.

I sat down and prayed. I asked God’s forgiveness for only seeing the charred remains first. I asked God’s forgiveness for the individuals who caused the fire. And I found peace that in the midst of the ruins, God is greater.

I’ve been through many trials in my life. Some so bad that there will always be a scar. But the thing about scars is that the wound itself is healed, the scar is mark on me is a reminder of God’s deliverance.

I saw that in the forest. There were scars all around, but the healing was in the new growth. The healing was in moving forward and trusting in God who cares more about the foliage than I ever could. The Creator is greater.



Saved, now what?

how to receive the holy spirit - good news unlimited on Image Of The Holy Spirit“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – that is, the Holy Spirit – he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

John 14:26

Jesus spent a lot of time with his disciples. This time was not always spent in walking, fishing, and telling jokes, although I’m sure they did their share of that. Most of Jesus’ time was spent in teaching lessons that the disciples would need after he left them. Lessons on how to talk with authority when you don’t agree with them, lessons on how to show love to the unlovely, and lessons on repentance when you fall short of God’s expectations.

I have a heavy burden for those who accept Christ and are not taught the “what’s next” of a Christian life. My burden was given to me from God and through that burden I wrote “From Self-esteem to God-esteem.” These words on paper are a guideline to listening to the Holy Spirit in the “what’s next.”

When we accept Christ as our Savior and acknowledge that he has forgiven, and always will, our sins, we are free. We are free to be whoever we want to be. But as we are told in Psalm 37:4 that if you, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” our desires will be the same as God’s. Dwelling in the relationship with God is where the Holy Spirit comes in, and also where we fall short in mentoring new Christians in their walk.

Our strength to walk with God comes from the strength of God in us. Jesus did not leave his disciples, or us, to their own devices. He left them with an indwelling Holy Spirit that provides a way to continue walking with Christ. The Holy Spirit teaches us as Christ taught his followers: talking, loving, and repenting. He gives us wisdom and understanding for living in a sin-full world. He  teaches us meaning when we read the Scriptures, and he reveals sin through discernment.

We should never neglect the Holy Spirit power in us. I spent many confusing years trying to do it on my own, because I was saved through a denomination that made me feel like the Holy Ghost was a dirty word. I didn’t realize that I had all that I needed right with me from the moment I accepted Christ to live a Christian life. I worked, I studied, and I did. And I searched for something I thought was missing.

What a revival we could have if we would only take the time to mentor Christians and show them through God’s Word the power against the world that we have inside of us. My pastor has been giving out the “From Self – esteem to God – esteem” book to new converts at the time of their salvation. But we need more. That book is only a stepping stone to helping each other draw on the wisdom, strength, and power of the Holy Spirit living inside each of us.

Who can you mentor today?


The Lesson from a Grain of Wheat

wheat-field-640960_960_720 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

John 12:24-25

A loved one of ours is going through a really tough time right now. Her children are grown; she is alone and scared. Her whole life has been spent trying to hold onto her status as a needed role in her children’s lives and now that they have families of their own, it is hard for her to understand the change in the way that they need her. She is miserable and that in itself is pushing family and friends away. Her whole life is wrapped around her unhappiness in this world. And my heart breaks.

Jesus knew that this life was only temporary when he gave the parable of the wheat seed. The seed in and of itself is not life, but it plays a role in bringing life. Just as Jesus died and was buried in the earth to bring us life, so must the seed be planted so that it can die and bring forth new life in the stalk of wheat. If the seed does not die, then new life does not grow. And so must we be the same.

I have a good life here on earth, but I know that only in dying to self can I be truly satisfied and fulfill my calling to produce good fruit. I cannot cling to the comforts of this world and still grow in Christ. I cannot look at what I have and don’t have (friends, family, possessions) and keep the joy of Christian growth in my spirit. I have to die to self, I have to let go of earthly life in order to embrace new, eternal, life in Christ. And I have to die to self so that others might see the fruit of that death.

We go through stages in this life: single, married, divorced, widowed. And each stage has its own God designed purpose as I wrote in Submission is NOT a Four-letter Word, “God doesn’t call the roles of wife, single woman, or widow…God calls each (person), regardless of role in this life, to serve Him fully. We are to do this wherever we are and no matter what the role.”

I pray for my friend. I pray that she realizes that her life is not over, it is just beginning a new phase. I pray that she finds comfort in Christ and that she allows Him to direct her every thought, desire, and prayer. I pray that she would embrace this new relationship with her children and that she supports them as the generation that she instilled God’s love into as she raised them. And I pray that she realizes that she is never alone.