The Beauty of Contentment

The Beauty of Contentment

“There must be more than this provincial life.”
– Belle, Beauty and the Beast

 

Maybe so, Belle. Maybe so.

I think it’s easy to get lost in daydreams of something better when what we already have is actually pretty great. (In Belle’s case, her adoring father, cute hometown, seemingly carefree schedule, unlimited access to books, various admirers, and not to mention her physical beauty and figure…)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that although Belle’s ache for the next big thing is relatable, there’s also something to be said for living a life of contentment.

I’m not talking about a life without dreams and aspirations. I’m talking about a life driven by gratitude rather than dissatisfaction. A life defined by the beauty of simplicity instead of the complexity and pain of comparison.

Like Belle, I’m guilty of getting lost in the wistful woe of wanting something more than what God has provided me with, especially when it comes to my physical appearance. I often compare my body to other women and deem myself inadequate if I feel I fall short. Sometimes instead of accepting the body God gave me and working to make it the best it can be, I wallow in what no longer comes naturally to me anymore, i.e. a fast metabolism and ability to eat a whole pizza by myself and not gain an ounce of weight.

There must be more than this provincial body of mine…who’s with me on this?

Perhaps you struggle with finding contentment with your physical appearance as well.

Or maybe you struggle with contentment in your marriage. Have you ever thought there must be someone else out there who could make you happier than the man you’re married to? Do you compare your husband to your friends’ husbands and take mental notes of what they do that yours doesn’t do?

Maybe your home/car/finances aren’t quite measuring up to what you dreamed they’d be at this point in your life.

What is it about your current situation that you wish were different?

Once you figure out what the biggest areas of discontentment in your life are, ask yourself this: Is the thing you’re struggling to live joyfully with something that at one time you considered to be a blessing?

You see, blessings grow dull and get blurred by discontentment when we allow comparison to creep into our hearts.

Comparison truly is the thief of joy. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”

There’s not a whole lot that sounds better than a tranquil heart after being worn down by years of discontentment and comparison. The question is, how do we honestly overcome the way we’ve grown to see our circumstances that for so long we’ve deemed as subpar?

My sister went to Honduras a couple of years ago and told me about a woman she saw there who lived in a house with a dirt floor. Yet, every day, this woman was seen sweeping her floors. She didn’t have very much, but she valued it anyway and did her best to take care of it.

Even though I didn’t see her with my own eyes, the image of this lady sweeping her dirt floors stuck in my mind. When I think of her, I’m struck by the beauty of her contentment and the value she placed on what little she had. This is how we are called to care for the blessings we have been entrusted with. I think we keep on taking care of our bodies because it’s the only one we have. We pour into and invest in our marriages because it’s what we vowed to do. We work our hardest for the employer that hired us because they did so in good faith. We value what God has entrusted to us, whether it be a dirt-floor house or just the smallest one in the neighborhood.

I think we start acting like what we have is valuable–we water our own grass–then we watch it inevitably thrive as most things do when they are treated with care.

May we begin to see our surroundings with fresh eyes, full of gratitude and grace so that we may be able to confidently claim contentment in all things. (Phil. 4:11)

 

BraveGirl Martha

IMG_4430

The Truth About Insecurity

The Truth About Insecurity

Insecurity is an absolute Robber.

It steals joy.
It removes peace.
It dulls vision.
It stops dreams.
It creates fear.
It destroys relationships.
It hinders WHO YOU ARE in every way, shape and form.

Insecurity stops us in our tracks. We will sway to the left or to the right removing our focus on the straight path before us.

The first part of John 10:10 says,

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy”

BUT hear the good news…

Your God LOVES you.
You are ENOUGH.
You are WORTHY.
You are CHOSEN.
You are HAND PICKED by your God.
He is molding YOU, shaping YOU and forming YOU into his likeness.

Insecurity causes a false belief of who you are. Throw it off and RUN with Jesus! You were made to be secure in Christ and Christ ALONE.IMG_9241

When that revelation penetrates your heart and you know his truth, you can be SECURE. CONFIDENT. FEARLESS. ALL…for Jesus!
Signature_Cheryl-1

 

 

cheryl profile pic

Betrayal, Courage, and Faithfulness – A Marriage Worth Fighting For

Betrayal, Courage, and Faithfulness – A Marriage Worth Fighting For

BraveGirl Robyn & her husband, Donny, share their AMAZING story of Courage, Bravery, & Faith as they share their powerful testimony of how they were in the process of divorce and God stepped in…turning a hopeless situation into something worth fighting for. It doesn’t get any BRAVER than this!! Thank you Donny and Robyn for sharing your BRAVERY with us! click the video below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCLNuFzMxj0

 

 

 

 

 

Aching for Approval

Aching for Approval

img_5797I want to be in shape, but I really don’t want to exercise. I want to be a woman with a spotless house, but I really don’t want to clean it. I want to be a great cook, but I hate mimg_5797aking dinner.

Can you relate? So many times we want to be rather than do.

We want to be a perfect mother, rather than simply loving our children. We want be in a happy marriage, rather than intentionally working on it. We want to be friends with everyone, rather than forming lasting friendships. We want to be known as a servant, rather than having a true desire to serve. We want to be a minister, rather than quietly ministering to others right where we are.

Can it be that the desire to be all of these things comes from our desire for approval from other people, rather than God? We want everyone to think we are all of these things, so we just continue to put on a show day after exhausting day.

Meanwhile, we are silently screaming through our holy Facebook posts, staged Instagram photos, and seemingly squeaky-clean images, “Please see me! Please love me! Please think I’m important!” What we don’t realize is that the whole time we’re searching though the crowd for someone to respond, Jesus gently whispers, “I see you. I love you. You are important.”

I remember when I was a kid and I would come home and tell my mom when someone said something mean about me. She would always tell me the opposite and assure me they were wrong, but I remember thinking, “She’s my mom, of course she thinks that.” Instead of believing the loving words of the person who knew me best, I believed the hurtful words of a fellow 12 year old with their own issues and insecurities.

As an adult, I do the same thing. I believe the enemy’s lies about me, rather than the truth given by a loving Father who knows me best. I seek approval from others to affirm the lies are untrue instead of turning to God for my affirmation.

We were not put on this earth to please others. We were not meant to constantly try to prove our worth. We don’t need to be anything other than a loved child of God who desires to pass that love onto others and make Him known. It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It might look messy or overly simple or terribly flawed to others, but if we were perfect we wouldn’t need God. And we so desperately need to need Him.

Sometimes our fears shift from not being able to please man to not being able to please God. The good news is…grace. God’s grace does not change based on our works or our sin. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever and His grace is sufficient for each and every one of us. We can’t mess up too much to lose His love or do enough to win it. It’s already ours. There is so much freedom in that truth!

On the other hand, does this truth give us the green light to do anything our flesh craves? Of course not.

“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:1

A life lived for Jesus is a life that strives to be more like him. We should avoid sin because it can and will lead to destruction in our lives and relationships. However, we are forgiven. We are understood. We are loved without condition.

I want to make a daily choice to look to God and God alone for my recognition, my approval, and my worth. I want to do rather than to be. And when I mess up, I want to breathe in His grace and know that I am loved by Him and that is enough.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” Ephesians 3:18

BraveGirl Robyn

DSC_9876

Sometimes I Can’t

Sometimes I Can’t

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13

So many people, Christians and non-Christians are familiar with these words. We decorate our homes, our social media, our keychains and coffee mugs with these words. We use them to inspire us, to keep us motivated when we’re working out, and to encourage people in difficult times.

But, as a long-time Christian, can I admit that sometimes I can’t?
“I. Can’t. Even.”
Maybe you’ve seen those words. It could be in the context of joy, empathy, or dismay. I recently was at a point where I couldn’t do anything. I made a mistake which blew into a much greater mess than I could imagine. (lesson learned: think before you speak and sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all)

And? Due to the emotions stirred up in the fray, there were words spoken about me that cut me to my very core. Words that I couldn’t even process. I was paralyzed.
I couldn’t do all things through Christ. I couldn’t do anything but sit there, stunned at what had been said.
I tried to process the situation a hundred different ways, but still I was grieved, angered, and ashamed. Grieved that I had erred, angered at the responses, and ashamed to have to face people after the fact, not knowing who had heard what I said and who had not and who now viewed me differently and who already knew me and would forgive me quickly.

It took a night with some dear women who know me well, who brought comfort to my hurting heart. Then…a song on the radio that God used to shake me awake even more to the REAL truth. Jesus redeemed me. He already paid for that error, gladly, because He knew my mistakes don’t define me or who He has made me to be! The song was called “My Victory” by David Crowder. I hope these words sink deep into your spirit like they did mine…

You came for criminals
And every pharisee
You came for hypocrites
Even one like me
You carried sin and shame
The guilt of every man
The weight of all I’ve done
Nailed into your hands
Oh, your love bled for me
Oh, your blood in crimson streams
Oh, your death is hells defeat
A cross meant to kill is my victory
Oh, your amazing grace
I’ve seen and tasted it
It’s running through my veins
I can’t escape its’ grip
In you my soul is safe
You cover everything
Oh, your love bled for me
Oh, your blood in crimson streams
Oh, your death is hells defeat
A cross meant to kill is my victory
Behold the lamb of god
Who takes away our sin,
Who takes away our sin
The holy lamb of god
Make us alive again

Perhaps you too have had those times where you feel that you just can’t. Hang on tightly to His word and let Him be your guide. Be encouraged today remembering that He holds you in the palm of His hand, knowing that Jesus has truly paid it ALL. Forgiveness is free and you can walk in that freedom. And Christ can do all things in you through His Power and His Might and His Spirit, if you allow Him.

When my heart was grieved

and my spirit embittered,
 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.

Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

Join me and let’s rest in the freedom our God offers. Blessings, dear friends!

Signature_Tammy

 

 

Tammy

Good Good Father

Good Good Father

Last weekend, my family and I attended an event full of loud music, excitement and intense cheering. My three (almost four) year old was so excited, clapping and cheering as he gazed at all the incredible scenes going on around him, dancing, singing, cheering, shouting, and music that was so loud you could feel the beat shaking the floor beneath you. He LOVED the atmosphere, the intensity, the fun …and then…as if someone snapped a finger hypnotizing him…he crashed. He fell fast asleep, drool and all, as the event continued on in its’ excitement and decibels.

He was sitting in my husband’s lap when he faded into dream land, and praise God that he was, because he’s a BIG boy. My arms could never have sustained my son’s weight when he’s in his deepest sleep. It’s like holding massive amounts of concrete. NO joke!

But here is the beauty of what I want to share with you about that sweet moment. When the event was over, my husband gently got up trying not to wake him from his sleep. As I watched him carry my son from the auditorium all the way out to our car…I instantly saw a glimpse of our Father. The. Father.

The Father who carries us when we are weak and burdened.

The Father who carries us when we are so overwhelmed and cannot take another step.

The Father who carries us when we are beyond fearful of what’s ahead.

The Father who carried the sins of the world so that you and I can be forgiven…Eternally.

imagepng-1

He’s a Good Good Father.
It’s His nature, the very being of who He is.

My son didn’t have a care in the world. He was enjoying deep sleep because he was SECURE in the arms of his daddy. As hard and long as the walk was for my husband, he was determined to carry his son ALL the way. What a beautiful picture of how Jesus looks at His children and says,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,

and I will give you rest.”

He longs to be good to you and carry ALL your burdens ALL the way…if only you will let him. He doesn’t care about the heaviness, the hurt, the uncomfortable or how long it takes. He is a GOOD Father who longs to embrace His son or daughter simply because He LOVES you.
imagepng

He is a Good Good Father…a good daddy…there is no one else like Him. Let him pick you up today, take your burdens and carry you through…All the way. He is waiting to do just that. What burdens are you facing today? Will you let Him carry them…and you?

Signature_Cheryl-1

cheryl profile pic

You Are Enough

You Are Enough

You hear the whispers over and over…

YOU. ARE. NOT. GOOD ENOUGH.

It’s a continual theme that rings through your thoughts like the tune of an annoying song on replay…It’s never ending and you can’t seem to make it stop.

Maybe that feeling of you are “not good enough” comes from past mistakes. Maybe it comes from a parent who treated you as though you were never enough. Maybe it comes from a particular statement made by a teacher, a friend, a close family member – a statement that you have believed to be truth ever since.
It doesn’t really matter where it comes from, what matters is that TODAY you recognize it for what it is….an ABSOLUTE LIE.
I lived in this cycle for years. I could not seem to move past this. I claimed it and received it as truth in my life. Plain and simple(in my mind)- I was NOT GOOD ENOUGH. It didn’t matter how many people would compliment me, encourage me or even affirm that I was, in fact, good enough. I had made a comfy little prison cell in my mind where I sat and replayed this lie over and over. This cell had become my home, my truth, my comfort. Even though it was false, there was security within those walls.

Then one day, I remember weeping in the midst of a bible study because God had wrecked my heart with a ramming revelation of His word. Those lies began to fade – it was a revelation to my soul! Satan had whispered long enough and it was time to clean house.

IMG_0137
I tore down the ugly wallpaper renouncing the lies that I had believed for so long and replaced it with HIS TRUTH. If you have ever used wallpaper, then you know how hard it can be to remove! It’s the same with replacing your thoughts. REMOVE and REPLACE. We have to renew our minds with the word of God.
It is now a place of FREEDOM to linger in the beauty of God’s word…His truth about who I am because the captive has been SET FREE!

I am His…
GOOD ENOUGH
Beloved
Righteous
Beautiful
Chosen
Blessed
Daughter…

And so are YOU.

Listen to me dear sister – the place where you struggle the most in not feeling good enough is a guaranteed place where God wants to use you most for HIS glory! The enemy absolutely knows that and he wants to cripple you and render you to be ineffective for the kingdom of God.

Know God’s truth and what he says about you! Take a good hard look at that pretty cell you are sitting in and realize that it’s NOT really that pretty at all…If you look close enough, you will see the cracks, the dirt, the imperfections and ugliness because it is covered in lies. There is NOWHERE in scripture that tells us that we are NOT good enough, it reveals the opposite.

You are GOOD ENOUGH because Jesus says you are.

HE. CHOSE. YOU.

You did not choose him(John 15:16). AND…He would choose you in your messed up, sinful, not feeling good enough, self again and again. It was and is HIS purpose to set the CAPTIVES FREE!
Leave that cell changed and renewed by the WORD of GOD and ONLY return as a reminder of the freedom that took place!

YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.

Jesus says you are.

Signature_Cheryl-1

cheryl profile pic

5 Ways to Lose Weight and Feel Better

5 Ways to Lose Weight and Feel Better

The internet is full of weight-loss tips and tricks. 
Since my three girls have been born, my body has gone through that thirties metabolism loss and yo-yo weight fluctuation that I was warned about in my twenties.
Truth…my girls don’t see my soft middle the way I do. They love to put their head on me when I’m sitting down or laying down. If I were rock-hard, I’d be pretty uncomfortable. 😉

UFZX6968

Teaching my girls to do a “bridge”. Walking down the door is much easier than pushing up from the floor!

There is weight though…that we all need to lose, weight that affects our health and causes a greater heaviness than our physical weight could ever cause.

#1: Worry.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  Matthew 6:27-29 NIV

It’s so easy to worry. The amount of bad news available on our smartphones or desktops is growing. Sunburn versus Sunscreen versus Sunlight Deficiency—no matter what you’re doing, you are probably doing it wrong.

Satan loves to get us all stirred up and bothered and consumed as he takes our peace one worry at a time! His job is to take away from what we know to be true. So fight him with truth.
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he came back with scripture every time.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
#2: Envy.
“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless–like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT
How many times do we see those Fabletics ads on our Pandora? Kate Hudson—defying gravity, defying nature, defying age, defying spandex yoga pants?!
Perhaps it’s more subtle. We see the social media pictures that are at just the right angle, or taken moments before the children began to brawl. We don’t see everything. We are often envious of something we don’t really understand.
How do we defeat envy? With thanksgiving.
To quote a VeggieTales video, “a thankful heart is a happy heart.”
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30 NIV
#3: Insecurity.
That feeling of inadequacy—somehow you fail to measure up? That is insecurity. It’s an identity crisis that breeds some pretty ugly heart conditions too. So for heart health, for lack of burden, we need to find our security and our identity in Christ.
Who does HE say we are? (BraveGirl Mindy did a series on this that I recommend. Here’s the first one: BELOVED. )
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
You were created by God for His Glory and His Goodness. He planned your purpose long ago, and your “mistakes” and “flaws” were part of the equation. If He wants to demonstrate His saving power in a human, who is better qualified than you? If you were perfect, you wouldn’t need Jesus.
#4: Guilt.
“I could have done that better.” “I wish I wouldn’t have…” “I wish I would have…”
“…but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:12-14 NLT
Paul didn’t focus on what he hadn’t done, but what he had yet to do. Our perfection is in Christ. So, accept His forgiveness. He forgave ALL our sin when He died and rose again. There is no sin you have committed that He has not already paid for.
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman,
“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11 NLT

#5: Harmful Thoughts
Our thought life will most certainly dictate our health.
Are you lugging around unmet expectations? Resentment and bitterness? Those times you were let down once again? Perhaps you were looking for a different savior than Jesus?
Satan loves opportunities to breed resentment, jealousy and bitterness.
Jesus warns us about our heart and thought life.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23 NIV
James reminds us “in your anger, do not sin.” It is a natural reaction to feel anger, but if we do not attempt to resolve conflict and take a look at our hearts, it only leads to self-destruction.
Breaking it down…WEIGHT we all need to lose:
Worry
Envy
Insecurity
Guilt
Harmful/Hateful
Thoughts
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NLT
Jesus came to set us free. Imagine how much lighter you will feel once you lay these things down at His feet and allow yourself to be refreshed!
Praying for you to lose the “weight” and to embrace the Joy of the Lord this week!
Love,
BraveGirl Tammy
Tammy

 

 Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Losing_Weight_the_Healthy_Way.jpg
The King’s Daughters

The King’s Daughters

We are Daughters of the King,
but doubt controls our life.
Consumed by problems of this world,
each day is full of strife.

More aware of others’ thoughts
than those of Him above,
we blend into this fallen world,
loving what they love.

We hate the number on the scale,
a battle we can’t win.
Yet so afraid to tell a soul
we’re starving to be thin.

We find our worth in the words of others
or in the arms of men.
We see ourselves as damaged, ruined;
our souls feel dark with sin.

Addictions fed in secrecy
have led to shame and guilt.
We’re trapped inside a hollow shell
of the “perfect” life we’ve built.

The lies we’ve heard have become truth,
and we’re tired of fighting back.
“Unworthy” has become our name,
defenseless to attacks.

These are the Daughters of the King,
the ones for whom He died.
The ones He aches for when they hurt,
the ones whose tears He’s dried.

The ones He created so fearfully, wonderfully–
the jewels in His crown.
He craves us, sees us, chases us;
He never lets us down.

Already set free, yet walking in chains,
we’re called for so much more.
The victory is ours to claim
when it’s Him we’re living for.

He calls us precious, prized and His,
He’s spoken for our hearts.
He fights for us and pleads for us,
Forgiveness He imparts.

Lights of this world, He tells us to shine.
He made us to stand out.
He calls us brave and capable
to conquer fear and doubt.

He says, “Arise. Converse with me.”
“With you I will abide.”
You’ll find in all things, looking back,
He never left your side.

Beloved in His eyes we are
and safe we’ll always be.
Forever treasured, beautiful,
Accepted and redeemed.

And so it is well with our souls
when we can just believe,
and walk in truth of all He says
of our identity.

We are the Daughters of the King,
the ones no longer bound.
The ones to whom He’s given hope,
a future, and a crown.

BraveGirl Martha

IMG_4430

Made for Me (A Dress-Shopping Adventure)

Made for Me (A Dress-Shopping Adventure)

Just before Mother’s Day, my daughter turned 7. We celebrated with a trip to Baskin Robbins.

IMG_7436
The next night, we took her gift card to a clothing store so she could buy some dresses.
I decided that for Mother’s Day this year I wanted to buy a new dress.
After 11 dresses, I left the store empty-handed and not feeling great about myself.
You see, before children, I was pretty body-confident. I’d gone up in weight during college, but worked at getting fit before getting married.
After two children, my body returned to the illusion of normal. After my third daughter, my abs never fully connected.
And, in the right outfits, you can’t tell.

IMG_7440

This is my belly button. Color blocking is supposed to give me curves, but the waist hit too high with this dress.

But, given the wrong fit, well, the preschoolers aren’t afraid to ask eagerly if I have “a baby in my tummy”??

IMG_7443

Side-ruching is supposed to give you an hourglass figure. This dress was not too tight, but the fabric gathered at the most unfortunate place for me. (see next photo)

 

IMG_7444

This dress makes me look pregnant. Or reveals that I was pregnant-three times over. So much for side-gathers.

IMG_7441

This was actually the closest to a “yes” all night, but the flowers? Too big.

IMG_7442

It was SO cute on the hanger!

IMG_7445

I wanted to say “yes” to the dress, but this was another “no”.

 

IMG_7447

Modest is hottest, right?

 

By the time I got to that last dress, I just wanted to cover myself up. Why was everything in so many different colors and styles still so wrong?!!

I googled my body type at home that night. It turns out, those dresses I tried on? Not made for me. My body type is not an apple or a pear. (Or any form of triangle or hourglass). I’m a banana.
Or as they now say, “rectangle”. That means that my middle is pretty much the same as my hips and shoulders. It’s nicer than calling me a hot dog. Or an eggplant.
But, the point here is that if something isn’t made for us, it’s not going to fit.
We’re not going to feel comfortable and we’re not going to be confident.

I do have dresses that fit me and that I feel great in.
Maybe I don’t need anything new. Maybe I need to remember what I have. And maybe in my heart, I need to remember who made me.

Healthy eating and working out can be wonderful, but if we’re obsessed with them, they become idols. We are worshiping our bodies instead of the One who made our bodies.
Raising our kids and doing a good job are noble goals, but even our children can become an idol if they become more important than God.
There’s only one throne in our life. It’s up to us to choose who’s on the seat. Is it me and my ability to be “supermom”? Is it my husband? Is it my kids?
I want to surrender that throne to God, and He’s so gentle to remind me when I’m crowding the seat.

The song “Have it All” by Bethel has really ministered to me lately. I’m not the all-Perfect One. I’m not the all-Holy One.
But, if I’m trying to live up to that, then I am trying to be God. No wonder I’m tired and constantly failing to meet my expectations!

God has placed you and I on the Earth right now to minister to people around us. We don’t have to change to be useful. We just have to be willing to be used.

How about you? Have you been discouraged by something lately? How can we pray for you?

Signature_Tammy