Feeding the Dragon

Feeding the Dragon

I could feel it building up. Smoke began to waft out of my nostrils. My inner dragon had awakened and the fire was burning. The pressure grew and grew like an ugly volcano. I desperately wanted to remain in control, but the pressure built as I clung fruitlessly to the shredded threads of my calm nature. While with a client, my children escalated to the point of interruption and I had to apologize and mediate two different times in a 30 minute period. I was embarrassed and concerned I could lose business due to their misbehavior with each other.

How could this be happening to me? It was unfair! Though I handled the situation without blowing my top, that boiling pressure was still there. An hour later, while preparing dinner, the slightest noise set off my calm like the loudest thunderclap on earth. I felt like I was having a panic attack or a nervous breakdown. One child clapped her cup on the table. “Bang!” Another was singing and clapping her hands in rhythm. “Bang! Bang! Bang!”

In the past, I knew how to cope with this dragon. Its name is Stress. Perhaps you know it too? We all have ways of coping. Mine was dark chocolate. I would feel that dragon awaken and to silence it—to put it back to sleep—I’d find myself standing in the kitchen. Perhaps the chocolate was in the freezer, or the cupboard, but I’d put it in my mouth and let it melt as I took the deepest breaths I could. The bittersweet, buttery coating ran down my tongue into my body and I could feel the dragon lulling back to sleep.

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We panic and need that “fix” to calm us. If we don’t have it, we flail and flounder. We’ve become dependent on an unhealthy solution. We are now feeding the dragon.
Instead, we need to face the dragon. Though food has always been my comfort, I battled tonight against feeding the dragon as much as the dragon itself. In addition to the kitchen closing in on me, the piled-high dishes behind me threatened to finish me off.

While cooking dinner, I began rinsing and loading the dishwasher. With every plate, utensil and cup I transferred, I felt the load leave me. Sometimes clutter can present subconscious stress in our homes. The cleared sink and the cooked dinner were two large “to-dos” that were now off my list, lessening the size of my dragon.
I believe that as long as I’m on this earth, I will have to battle Stress. It won’t be easy, but I can choose healthy ways to fight it, rather than feed it and let it grow bigger.

You see, coping in an unhealthy manner leads to other heads on our dragon. Guilt. Self-loathing. Defeat.

I stole off to the bathroom and took a couple quiet moments to pray and escape the noise. That is when I truly felt peace. In Isaiah 26:3, we find a picture of a healthy coping mechanism.
“You will keep perfectly peaceful the one whose mind remains focused on you, because he remains in you.” (ISV) Turning our mind to God and His promises regarding our situations is a healthy way to cope.

Stated a little differently:
You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.(HCSB)
Where we are placing our dependence is significant. There are many promises, and He keeps them all. I encourage you to find a short verse that comforts you and write it out. Post it several places. Turn to those words when you feel weak. He is strong enough to carry you.

Are you feeling weak today? Has your dragon several heads? Leave a comment and we’ll pray with you.

It’s all for His glory.

Tammy

Everything for a Reason

Everything for a Reason

2014 is over. And, for many of my friends, we are rather thankful that it’s over. It was a year with some wonderful things, some terrible things, and though this is true most years, the hard things seemed a little harder last year.

Have you ever wondered why you’re going through something? If you did something wrong to somehow “deserve this”?? Perhaps you didn’t do anything to “deserve” it. I know that it’s hard when we don’t have the answers, but sometimes, we go through things and find later that we are able to help others in the same situation. Or, maybe their situation has different details, but their emotional state is so similar that we can relate and offer great empathy and encouragement.

It’s not the difficult thing that we end up impacted by, but the way we handled it. 100 years from now, what is the result of this temporary situation? How did it change me? That is the useful reward. An author I am recently impacted by, Christine Caine, has a quote that really sums up what I’m talking about. “The devil on his best day did not take you out on your worst day. You are still here. You are still standing. The best is still to come!

I have a friend going through something very hard right now. I’m so very thankful that I am one of her “people”. 🙂 We all need people when we’re going through difficult things, but our strength cannot rely on people. They are the secondary support system of a shared faith in a Mighty God. He needs to be our strength. There are things He can see that we’ll never see until the end of our time, and only when we’re trusting a power much greater than that of mere mortals are we strong.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come–the Almighty One.” (Revelation 1:8)

In the middle of friends going through difficult things, if you don’t know what to say, that’s okay. Sometimes trying to say something can end up being more harm than help. For example, encouraging someone about “God’s perfect timing”, however true, may be the very thing God is wrestling with them. In that case, stay out of the ring or you might get a blow thrown your way!
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But, be encouraged. Just as the sun sets and the shadows grow long, the next morning is already coming and the light will come back. God’s light is not visible always, but He is always there.
“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Be encouraged, dear friend. Your tears are not wasted. Your struggle is not in vain. The Mighty One of all time has heard your cry and will be able to redeem EVERYTHING. Nothing has happened to you that He did not see. We do not know why people are spared or not spared, but that there is redemption in Him. Perhaps He will use you to bring healing to another that is in danger of breaking under the same burden.

Tammy

The Gift of Time

The Gift of Time

Recently I reached my one year milestone battling brain cancer. Part of my journey consisted of a total of seven MRIs this year. The MRI this month seemed strangely different. It was as if I was becoming a numb robot following the doctor’s orders. I was going through the motions hoping for good news then I would share it with family and friends so everyone could be happy till the next MRI in three months. The news of a clean MRI brought me relief—not joy. I was slowly detaching myself this routine, because I knew with each clean MRI it would bring me closer to the day when I get the news that the tumor has grown back.

Darkness crept in with feelings of shame and depression. How could I hear such wonderful news and yet my heart wasn’t able to process it? Because I allowed fear to come in and steal my joy.

With tears streaming down my face I prayed for forgiveness, I asked to feel joy and see His glory. I asked God to show me what I missed when I received His gift of a clean MRI. His response was, “The Gift of Time”. At that moment I was flooded with joy as the fear rapidly fled from my heart. I felt secure in His sovereignty.

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1 John 5:14-15(ESV)
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

This “Gift of Time” isn’t to be measured by quantity but by quality. To much is given, much is required. As the days draw closer to Christmas my heart steers away from the quantity of gifts that will soon be under the tree. My heart is focused on the quality of our time spent together on Christmas. God isn’t concerned about my attention to details of what I think makes a perfect Christmas. Offering myself wholeheartedly to the ones I love is what He wants.

James 1:17 (NLT)
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

Looking ahead to 2015 I sense God using this precious “The Gift of Time” to help my family and I grow closer together in Christ. By showing us what it means to be good stewards of our time together. Through much prayer, discussions with my family and the Brave Girls, I have decided to step down from the Brave Girl Community in 2015. If there comes a time when God puts it on my heart to write, the Brave Girls have graciously left the door open for me to come in as a guest writer. I have truly cherished my time with all you in 2014.

Shelly

Strangely Dim

Strangely Dim

As I progress in age, there are some things I am noticing. My vision? It’s changing. My hearing? Also changing. My desires compared to people younger than I? Changing again.
Glasses
It is easy to see the difference between a baby and a woman of, say, eighty years.
The progression from infancy to elderly has recently been surprising to me, however.

Do you notice that the older you are, the weaker your hearing becomes, giving you an easier time to hear the voice of God? As your vision becomes less critically focused, your soft focus can smooth over the hasty judgments of younger persons and look more at the whole picture?
Infants are so aware of their surroundings that they cry at the amount of noise and visual “stimulation” they receive. By the time I was a teen, I was bombarded with music and seeing and hearing myself and others through a very critical lens. Can an acne-faced teen girl be considered attractive? I didn’t think so. I was very attracted to the sights and sounds of fame and popularity. (Read my last post on Fame, if you’d like)
When I look at the mirror now, without my eyeglasses or contact lenses, I cannot see the flaws that I obsessed over in my teens. I see a soft beauty.
Sometimes the world wants us to “correct” our hearing or vision to fall in line with what they value.
I propose that we instead, let it fade into the distance with our diminishing hearing and vision.
“And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
Just as our bodies become less firm and rigid, so too, our souls have the opportunity for this beautiful softening. We can allow forgiveness and grace to wash over us and no longer cling to the wounds of our youth.
And? It can begin today!

God made us exactly as He wanted to. He makes masterpieces, not mistakes. When we are older, we look just as He intends us to. The more forgotten we may be (or feel), the more our priorities can lie in the One who never forgets us.
Truly, my vision of God and my ability to hear His whispers is enhanced with age.
Lately, through many different sources, I have been reading His words with clarity on the same matter. He is calling us to forgiveness and to love.

What is beautiful? The release of bitterness and resentment. No longer do you dwell on those wounds, however painful, but within you, the soothing peace of God, so that you can say “it is well with my soul.”

A Hymn by Helen Lemmel written in 1922 is telling. You may recognize it.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Refrain: Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!

Refrain

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Refrain

The only remnant of our lives will be the relationships we had with others. For better or for worse, these people are also eternal beings, souls with a destiny. Our influence on their lives will be remembered.
Through the transformation from baby Christian to “Good and Faithful Servant”, there are mistakes, apologies, purifying and refining, but it is through love that we encourage those to keep at it.

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My grandparents with me on my wedding day

When our bodies no longer look like our own, perhaps that is when we are finally transparent enough for people to see our sweet Jesus within us.
The most beautiful women I know are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slower to anger. Most of them have photographs of their grandchildren and great grandchildren to share with me.
And the beauty I see most is in their eyes. There is a dance, a sparkle, an inner joy that can only come from this perspective.

This lifetime may seem dull and ordinary, but when we pass on, there will be the notice and recognition for the unselfish things that seemed to pass by unnoticed.

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:37-40

Use those eyes to see past the “brave face”, those ears to hear past the “wounded words” and you will find broken hearts longing for reconciliation. Longing for friendship where they have only known betrayal.
And? You know a friend who never leaves or forsakes.

What do you hear when you’re all alone? Where do your thoughts wander? What do you see when you’re still and observing? Can you be used for His love to be brilliant in this world?

It’s All for His Glory!

Tammy

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but sometimes I’d prefer that.
I’ve never had a broken bone, but many words have hurt me.

I was born with a big heart and a bigger mouth. Though I love people, my delivery of love sometimes is jumbled and/or misinterpreted. How thankful I am for those who take the time to clarify with me. I’m grieved that something I express to them in love has caused them pain—I didn’t see the possibility of misinterpretation! And, I’m relieved that they care enough to let me clarify—they believe I have good intent.

Most of us fall into one of two categories: offended or offender. I fall most often into the latter. It takes a lot to offend me and I don’t enjoy the conflict, so I’ll do my best to quickly resolve things. The problem arises when I cause offense and the offended does not wish to reconcile. It is more common in today’s world of internet communication, where inflection, facial expression, tone of voice are all stripped from our words.

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And, when I’ve unintentionally offended, I am unable to right the wrong until it is brought to my attention.
Can I please, on behalf of all of us with big hearts and bigger mouths, ask you to love us enough to let us know?
There is nothing more painful than to have a relationship with a friend, one based on trust and communication, and to find out from another friend that an offense lingers.

Regardless of the scope of the pain, the entire friendship must balance on honesty and trust, and love is key to the delivery for reconciliation!

Also, when given second-hand information, it is best to wait. Wait on the Lord, who can give you more than a band-aid on these word wounds! Truthfully, time can sometimes soften the blows of the words before you ask if there is a lingering offense and it may turn out to be nothing. Perhaps the second-hand information was a misinterpretation on another’s ears!
People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! James 3:7-10 (NLT)

When we are wounded, we want comfort. Often though, we lash out, hoping for validation. “I’m sorry” is at best, a bandaid compared to what our Lord does inside us with His Holy Spirit. He is the only restorer of wounded hearts. He changes us so much that, like Jesus, we intercede on their behalf for forgiveness!

This has so moved me that I’m in the midst of writing a song. In the future I hope to link it on this page, but for now I’ll share some of the lyrics.

“Hearts are weak, hearts are broken, no more strength within.
You are King, You have spoken, You forgive our sins.

Jesus, Jesus, heal our broken hearts.
Jesus, Jesus, Lord, how great Thou art.

Your close friends, they betrayed You, You have known our pain.
Yet You prayed, please forgive them, help us do the same.

Jesus, Jesus, heal our broken hearts.
Jesus, Jesus, Lord, how great Thou art.

Time may pass, lives are fleeting, what have we to show?
You will reign, King Eternal, You must be our hope.

Jesus, Jesus, come and heal our lands.
Jesus, Jesus, time is in Your Hands.”

How about you? Have you been burned, stung, cut by careless words?
I will be praying for your wounded hearts. You can simply leave a comment below, as we here at Brave Girl Community know that it’s all for God’s glory that we are alive and healing.

Tammy

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Sunshine

Taking pleasure in our weaknesses isn’t something that comes naturally to us. Our pride puts up a strong powerful wall to protect ourselves from anyone who might use our weaknesses against us. What if we set our pride aside and put our trust in Christ’s protection? God’s word tells us to boast, be glad and take pleasure in our weaknesses. When we share our weakness we are saying, “God I don’t care how people perceive me or what they think of me. I want them to see the truth of who you are in my life.”

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians12:8-9 

Sunshine

Recently I participated in a cancer fundraiser in my hometown. Every year my employer has a team at this event. We have a small committee of six people who do the bulk of the work behind the scenes to prepare for this fundraiser. One of the assignments of the committee is to decorate our booth. We brainstormed decorating ideas. Now it’s time to put our ideas into action and what happens…. not everyone helps! The majority of the work weighs on a few of the committee members. My resentments start creeping in as I begin to judge those who aren’t helping as much as the others.

As I and a couple others start working on the decorations I start to see how creative it is. I’m convinced we will surely win the decorating contest! We won last year. We can do it again this year! My competitive and perfectionist nature go into overdrive. My tongue speaks toxic words that are critical and demanding. The tasks are no longer enjoyable. To do lists get longer. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. To make matters worse I have brought home my frustrations and poor attitude as I work on the decorations in the garage.

Through all the preparations and turmoil I am praying to God, begging God to take away my inability to work with people. I was so consumed with my agenda I couldn’t see the depths of my actions.

The decorations went up minutes before the event started. For the next twenty-four hours there were conversational walkers, serious runners, variety of music, a busy silent auction, tons of food and most important warm weather. The fundraising exceeded all expectation!

BoothNow it was time to announce the winner of the best decoration. There was no doubt in my mind that we would win. My anticipation was building while waiting for my team’s name to be announced. The winner is……. not my team! How could this be? I worked so long. I took the time to redo things that weren’t right. I went to the store countless times. I planned the placement of the decorations. My thoughts went in every direction trying to make sense of why we didn’t win.

 

After cleaning up I drove home with a full car of supplies and the decorations. Still perplexed by the whole experience my youngest son says to me in the car, “Mom can we hang the sun in my tree fort when we get home?” It was at that moment I realized that my agenda had led me to wander off from God. I was busy focusing on judging those for not helping. I failed to notice all the times my son asked if he could help me. Being consumed by perfection I wouldn’t even consider allowing my 7 year old son to participate in making the decorations with me. My agenda was far different from God’s. God’s plan was designed to bring my family closer together after our battle we endured this year with my brain tumor.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37 

As we pulled into our driveway my exhaustion, body aches and poor attitude disappeared. Centered on God’s plan I didn’t waste another moment. We took the giant sun decoration out of the car, searched in the garage for the fattest nails, grabbed the hammer then headed up the tree fort. With a couple swings of the hammer the sun was shining brightly in his tree fort. We sat together on the wood floor gazing at this giant beautiful sun that filled an entire wall in his tree fort.

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He now had my undivided attention as he talked about the sun and anything else that was on him mind.

 

 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3:18

 

God allowed me to wander off for a short while. He finds me lost and confused. He shows me how weak I am without him in all areas of my life. For that I am glad to boast in my weaknesses, I take pleasure in my weaknesses. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 

Mom & Cougar

 

Do you struggle to share your weakness?

When was the last time you shared your weakness with someone?

 

 

 

Shelly

Remember Who You Are: SEALED

Remember Who You Are: SEALED

Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His…’  2nd Timothy 2:19

Sealed with a kiss.

There is something special about the kiss a husband gives to his wife before he walks out the door in the morning. The kiss says I love you, you are mine, and may God protect you until we are together again.   It is a daily reminder of the marriage covenant promise, which was sealed with a kiss so many years ago.

A mother gives the same kiss to her children when they leave for school.  The kiss says I love you, you are mine, and may God protect you until we are together again.  We assure our children of our love for them by stamping our kiss upon them!

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise… Ephesians 1:13 (NASB)

When you Listen, and then Believe, you become Sealed in Christ

If you have listened to the truth found in God’s Word and believed in the Gospel, then you are sealed in the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is God’s seal on the OT Promise of the Savior coming to offer redemption.

I will put My Spirit within you… Ezekiel 36:27

Queen Esther begged the king to save the Jewish nation from being destroyed, but there was one problem.  What is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s ring, may not be reversed by man.  The king had written a decree to have the Jews demolished and he sealed it with his signet ring.  No person can change a decree which has come under the seal of  the king.

Esther’s plea convinced the king to write a separate decree, which allowed the Jews to defend themselves in battle.

The king sealed the new decree, sent it out into the kingdom, and the Jewish nation was saved.

Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked. Esther 8:8

What is written in the King of king‘s name and sealed with the King of king‘s ring, may not be reversed by man.

God sealed His work on the cross, and He seals His promise in your heart when you believe in Him.

Heavenly Father,
I praise you for the gift of the Holy Spirit which is the seal of the promise made so long ago.  You confirm the hope which we have set in You.  Thank you for stamping your seal on our hearts.  We no longer have to prove ourselves to You, since Your seal shows we are already approved by You.  May you continue to remind us of exactly who we are through the truth of Your Word.  May our hearts rest in knowing that our souls are sealed with Your kiss, which says You love us, we are Yours, and You will protect us wherever we go.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen

Remember Who You Are: CHOSEN
Remember Who You Are: BELOVED
Remember Who You Are: KNOWN
Remember Who You Are: REDEEMED
Remember Who You Are: SEALED

I am praying for you,

Signature_Mindy

 

Beautiful Are The Feet…

Beautiful Are The Feet…

I have two very good feet. I was born with all ten toes. I have been able to walk without problems for the duration of my 30 plus years here on Earth.
So why don’t I like my feet?
My toes are a mix of my Dad’s toes and my Mom’s toes. I could point out to you that my first large toe and last two toes are all the same as his, but that my second and third are exact copies of my mother’s toes.
I don’t really dislike my toes, but they do make it difficult to purchase shoes that are not “open-toed” as their lengths are not uniform or standard for today’s fashion.

And this, perhaps is where the dislike begins. Today’s fashion. Marketing professionals are great at what they do. They find feet that they deem “flawless”, “perfect”, “the standard of beauty”, and then they photograph them. If the photograph isn’t just right, they will alter it to “put their best foot forward.”
(sorry, I couldn’t resist)

Along with the perfect toenails, which are not flat to the foot but have a slight roundness to the base, the toes are all lined up just like rows in a neatly planted garden. Not one is crooked, not one is too long compared to its sister. These toes often have a nice manicure and perhaps a coat of lovely lacquer as well.

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In junior high I began to have communal shower/locker room exposure. My feet also were exposed to that environment and I began to have imperfections on my skin. My perfect feet now had times of peeling which were treated and cured until it came back.
By high school I began to dislike my feet even more. Instead of pretty, smooth skin that resembled my palms, I had rough white layers on the balls of my feet and on the outsides. I was very active, and that is a natural result of all the time spent on my feet, hiking, playing sand volleyball, indoor volleyball, working fast food, etc.
As an adult I visited a podiatrist, who wasn’t concerned when he saw my feet, just told me to sand them. “You can even use a dremel on them.”

Within the last few years, I’ve jammed both my big toes and damaged the nail beds and I’ve kind of given up hope that I’ll ever even have toenails that cover my entire toe again.
When I met my now-husband, and we were dating, he one time wanted to give me a foot rub with some lotion. I resisted. I could not understand why he would want to touch my feet. I would often say, “God put my feet as far away from my eyes as possible as He knew it was the body part I liked the least.”
That’s pretty cruel to say. And, I believe it’s disrespectful to myself AND to the one who made me!

Here’s what the Bible has to say about feet:
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

This verse is so significant, it is quoted later in Romans 10:13-15.
“for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Perhaps it’s not your feet, but I’m willing to guess that you have a physical dislike somewhere on your body. Maybe it’s the way you look when you’re wearing shorts, or a swimsuit, or perhaps it’s your hair or skin or some feature that you feel doesn’t look like you want it to. It is rare today for a woman to be completely content. If you are, I am so thankful you’ve reached that place. I’m scaling the peak but it’s been a slow journey. I’d appreciate your prayers.

For the rest of us, we are fighting an unseen enemy, but he knows us very well.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

Thankfully, God knows us even better than our enemies.
13For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 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.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

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My youngest daughter just turned three. This is a photograph of her inside my tummy with her sisters’ handprints. On her birthday, I bought her some dress-up “heels”. She constantly puts on my dress shoes and shuffles around, so we bought her some for herself.
She was delighted to have them on when I was dressed up recently and exclaimed, “Mommy! We both have dress-up shoes on!”
Naturally, I told her we should take a photograph of our feet.
feet

To her, my feet are beautiful. Why? Because they belong to me, and because she loves me. Sometimes I think God wishes we could see ourselves with the love He has for us.
I can point out to you all the criticisms and reasons I’d never be selected to model a skin cream or nail polish, but I don’t have to. My feet weren’t made for marketing, but for moving. And they do. I am flawed, but my faith is real, and I keep trying.

I can think of another pair of beautiful feet that the world rejected—”He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2 (NIV)

Today, where are you feeling attacked? What part of brave, beautiful you is our enemy whispering insecurities into? Trust me, sweet friend, they are lies. There is no truth. God has told us truth. And, if we are looking at Him, we will see His love radiating to us, telling us that we are His and we are beautiful and we are loved.
With all my love for you as you embrace the beauty God has created inside and outside of you!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

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Friendless No More

Friendless No More

coffee dateSome people are naturals when it comes to making friends.

I never felt that way. Though I had three sisters and eventually a brother, I never quite “got it” when it came to the social skills/cues that others seemed to have naturally.

It didn’t help that I was book smart and younger than the cut-off date for school. I thought of myself as a little adult and most of my friends were teachers.

Still, when I got to college, I finally began to think, “perhaps that person is just as shy as I am and if I say hi first, they might want to be my friend!”

It worked! All of a sudden, being friendly was giving me friendships and I no longer needed to feel alone and sorry for myself!

That worked okay in college, but when I moved across the country to a new town where I knew a handful of my husband’s friends and had no family or support system, I felt alone once again.

Of course I had my faith and my devotional life and my new husband, but I was craving that deep bond of sisterhood with somebody IN PERSON. The problem lay in my inability to see beyond my empty chair.

Here I was with so much to offer if somebody would just come along and sit in that open chair of friendship. I was afraid to reach out, but longed for somebody to reach out to me!

I began to get involved at our church, and my husband and I began attending a small group Bible study. That did help me to meet other wives and slowly I began to feel like I was a part of a community, but I was craving a more exclusive friendship-an inner circle kind of friend.

Those are difficult to find, and I had some poor choices of friendship along the way. I was so desperate to find deep friendship that I ignored some signs of unhealthy friendship. A friend struggling in her own marriage became too dependent on my friendship and it was taking away from my own marriage because I was letting her lean on me so heavily.

After having our first child, I was fairly isolated until I began attending the daytime Bible study our church offered. It was nice not to be the only young mom among grandmothers, and I started to get some deeper friendships.

After a few months, a new family joined our church and we hit it off! Their daughter was only a month older than ours, and it was a fabulous friendship. We went through some great trials-their daughter developed cancer just before her first birthday but responded well to treatment and just celebrated her seventh birthday, still cancer-free!

They conceived their second child a month after we conceived, and they conceived their third about five months after we conceived our third. We went for walks together, we’d pray together, we laughed and cried together, and the emotional and spiritual bonds we forged were strong. (They still are)

I remember still the day they came by when our second born was about to have a birthday. They were going to move out of town for a new job, and he had gone ahead of her and the children. We were still supposed to have a month together, but just like that, she was leaving town!

It felt like a piece of me left town with her. I was so pained and depressed. How often do you have a friend that is perfect for you whose children are so close in age to your own? I had other friends whose kids were off-set by a year with my own or whose youngest matched the age of my oldest. They played together, but it wasn’t easy for me with the moms as we weren’t exactly at the same points in life.

I’ve had some great friendships since then, but it seems to be a pattern for me. I’ll get really close to a friend, and then, right when I’m appreciating the depth of the friendship and the trust we’ve built, she has to move away.

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http://quoteko.com/best-friends-forever-necklaces

Does this mean I should not invest ever again in a deep relationship? Though my short-term dark-mood pity-party self might want to say “yes,” Jesus is reminding me of something else.

I’m not the only person to want or need a deep friendship. His Holy Spirit is going to meet my deepest needs, but He knows I need fellowship.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)

He gave me a new friend this year, at my daughter’s school. We’ve been at the school for three years now and I noticed one mom pushing a jogging stroller daily, so after about a week, I intentionally reached out. She seemed like she needed a friend, but truly, I didn’t see how much it was I who needed her.

This summer she moved away for her husband’s job, and she sent me a photo on my phone of her son’s injury the exact night we took my daughter to the ER for an injury. I know it’s much harder to keep up a friendship at a distance, but the deep friendships survive the tests of time and space. You can pick up right where you left off.

I’ve been resting and listless a bit this summer, but I know that when school starts back up I have two choices. I can feel sorry for myself, or I can be the friend I am looking for, and for some other person, she will be that friend to me. Instead of looking inside myself at a hole, I’m seeking to fill one in somebody else.

At Brave Girl Community, we are here to help you be brave. We’re sponsoring a book giveaway of “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie F. Downs and we would love to be able to send this book straight to you! If you haven’t already, make sure to enter the giveaway. You can receive up to 10 extra entries each day just for stopping back by!

Perhaps reaching out for friendship seems like an impossible act of bravery for you – Please let us know if we can pray for you and make that first step a little easier!

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV)

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Dancing Naked

Dancing Naked

Dancing naked around the house, burping and laughing, performing balancing acts on various pieces of furniture, making a mess everywhere possible, and loving every second of it… that’s the life of a toddler boy. At least it is for my son. He is all about experiencing the next moment and what it has to offer. He lives life with complete abandonment. He hasn’t a care in the world except for the adventure that awaits him.

There is one exception that brings his uninhibited ways to a screeching halt. It’s when he notices… I’m not there. When I leave the room where he’s playing, he is fine for a short moment but when he realizes I’ve left, he starts crying and running through the house searching for me. When he finds me, his tears stop almost immediately, he’s relieved, and his peace and childlike joy come back. He just needs to know I’m there. That security gives him the confidence to dive head first once again, sometimes literally, into his next adventure.

I’ve also noticed that when he is playing on the playground, he is not comparing himself to the other kids. He doesn’t care if he makes a mistake climbing up the steps to the slide. If he has an accident in his pants, it’s not a self-esteem or self-image crusher. He doesn’t see himself as a failure or embarrassed because of the red snow cone syrup all over his shirt. He doesn’t care about meeting the expectations of his peers. All he really cares about is getting the most out of each second he possibly can and that I’m there beside him through it all.

The only downer that I see about my son’s toddlerhood is that he will have very little memory of such awesome days of living securely with complete abandonment. He can’t truly appreciate how good he has it right now. How tragic that he won’t remember most of these days! God gently shared something with me in the midst of my “Debbie Downer” moment. He said, “You too can experience life the same way as your son is experiencing it now. You already have the ability to live in complete abandonment but you choose not to. I am right here beside you. Do you trust me the same way your son trusts you?

BOOM!!! Yep. He hit me good with that one.

God was asking me to forget all my surroundings and live life for Him with complete abandonment, knowing and trusting that He is right there beside me. HE is my security. If I can step into this reality, because it IS A REALITY, I can live in true freedom every day no matter what comes my way. The possibilities are endless! The side effects would be peace, joy, comfort… I could go on and on. I can just watch the joy on my son’s face and that is enough confirmation for me.

Complete abandonment? How can I do that? What would it take to make possible what seems to be such an unreachable way of living? As I started asking myself these questions, a few key qualities that I would need in order to experience this freedom started coming to mind.

Humility
I believe this is the number one quality that has to take place in me. If my ego is in the way, I’m toast! After all, doesn’t ego stand for “Edging God Out?” 😉 Matthew mentions this one FIRST in The Beatitudes. It was listed FIRST for a reason. He knew we can’t hear God if we don’t practice this key ingredient. He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. In this short but powerful verse, He’s telling me I’m blessed once I realize I’m broken and that I NEED Christ. If I know I NEED Him, I am open to experiencing Him, and there is no greater blessing than that.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9b

Security In Christ
Knowing who I am in Christ is essential to carrying out His purpose for my life. Because of His amazing grace… because of what He did on the cross for me, I am made new every single day. Once I am His, He only sees me as pure and white as snow. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.”

And just as my toddler son was able to carry out his next adventure because he knew I was there, I am also able to carry out my next adventure for Christ because I know He is there for me. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Vulnerability
For me, vulnerability means putting myself out there regardless of what others might think or say. Being real, sharing my story, and being honest can be REALLY DIFFICULT. But if I know who I’m serving and I know He has me covered, all others lose their power over me. “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” -Psalm 91:4

Accepting God’s Grace
Sometimes it’s so much easier for me to give grace away to others than to accept it for myself. God gives me a new dose of grace every day. If he’s giving me that gift, it’s because he wants me to use it and that doesn’t mean only using it to bless others. It also means accepting the blessing for myself. This gives God glory.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Corinthians 12:9a

Sacrifice
What is harder than laying my own thoughts, desires, and wants down every day for another? I’ve come to realize this might be the hardest thing in life I ever do because it’s not a one-time thing. It’s a daily, lifetime thing. But it’s essential if I’m going to carry out God’s purpose for my life. He has a job for me to do… and a job for YOU.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. –Ephesians 2:10

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us.” -2 Corinthians 5:20

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. -Hebrews 12:1-2

Will you join me on this journey of living in complete abandonment for Him? Let’s see what He does in and through us. I have a really good feeling about it…

With love and grace,

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 Christy

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