Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Being Sure

I am not superstitious. Really, I'm not. I'm cautious, but I'm not superstitious. I do, however, tend to not get my hopes up often. My sister and I are alike in this. We don't let ourselves get intensely excited about things or events coming up because we don't want to be let down if things fall through. I never thought much about that outlook on life until one day when I was talking to the boyfriend, and he said that was a sad way to think. And he was right.

He was absolutely right. How can I, as a child of God, not have hope?

I have a set of devotional cards on my desk at work, and I'm terrible about changing the cards. It's not laziness or lack of motivation; it's simply forgetfulness on my part. It sits right in front of me day after day (among the papers, the multiple stamps, the pink ink pad, the maroon stapler, the black tape dispenser, the daily planner, the whistle, the almost-empty jar of Nutella, the wicker basket of assorted writing utensils, and the other teachery knickknacks), and I look right past it, forgetting to take the card in front, move it to the back, replace it with a new card, and read said small card that's printed with God's word.

All that to say, this morning I read the card in the silver holder. The same card that's been sitting there for months at least. The same card that I've seen but not really seen each day. And this is what it said.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

How appropriate. How timely. How like God. He does that sometimes. Just throws something at me when I, in my humanness, am pretty oblivious to His small, quiet voice.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for..."

As children of God, we should hope! I shouldn't not get excited about something just because it might not happen! What kind of faith-life is that?? What kind of example does that set for others who are watching? What it comes down to is I'm not the one in control! Ooohh. There it is. That's the real issue.

I, as an adult, as a teacher, and as someone who's lived on her own for a while now, have control issues. I do things my way because I know that my way works for me. I don't know how my life will look when I have to relinquish control to someone else. I'm a little nervous about that. I guess it all comes down to trust. Trusting that someone. Trusting God.

Do I trust God enough to hope? To have faith in what can't be seen? I should. I think it needs to start with the little things. I need to have hope when it comes to exciting upcoming events. I need to have hope when it comes to my career and the twists and turns that are wrapped up in the job. I need to have hope when it comes to my future. Marriage. Kids. Retirement...hah! I need to trust God with the small and big things that come my way...or don't come my way.

The point is, I, as a forgiven, cleansed child of the mighty King, have the greatest reason to have faith and to hope.

His word is truth, and He keeps His promises.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, May 3, 2010

The image in the mirror

**I did not want to post this. I wrote this many weeks ago, and I stopped and started writing it several times because, really, it just felt so silly to post something so superficial. As this post's direction changed through those many writings, however, and became less about me expressing a struggle and a fault of mine, and more about the important things in life, I decided I would share it because maybe others struggle with this, too.**

Beauty. The quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).

A friend of mine once wrote a post about being beautiful. I thought it was inspired (Go, Bethany!), and I truly can't get over the timing of that post. One day recently I was struggling with that very topic, and that oh-so-patient and wise boyfriend of mine reminded me that, in so many words, outward beauty isn't what all this is about. And by this, I mean life.

But it seems to me, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, that in today's world (and probably in yesterday's world, too), many people make beauty out to be this thing that can, and should be, attained at any cost, monetarily or otherwise. So for those of us who aren't natural, raving beauties, and desire to fit the status quo, that's a high price to pay.
Now hold on. I'm not saying I want to look just like everyone else; what I'm saying is that it's often difficult to see the beauty in one's self. Especially when it seems that outward beauty (even if it's fake) is being thrown at us ALL THE TIME from every direction. Eeek! How are we supposed to deal with that? If we're being honest, we would admit that outward beauty often draws us to someone else to begin with. Whether or not we stay near that person usually depends on whether or not they display inner beauty as well...

But after reading a blog posted by Kelly a week or so ago, I felt convicted. I mean really convicted. She talked about how "insecurity is really the worst form of PRIDE." Well, crud. I don't want to be prideful! I want to be secure in being God's creation so that I can point to Him in all I say and do. If I'm so focused on what I look like, how is that going to direct others to the King of kings? I know He made me just as I am, and I know that I am not loved for what I look like but rather for who I am in Christ. So, when I have those days where I'm feeling gross compared to all those gorgeous, perfectly coiffed people around me, I will remember that God chose to make me JUST as I am and that I am here to serve Him and to share the Gospel with everyone I meet and to not be so aware and distracted by my outward appearance that it takes my eyes off of the God who "has made everything beautiful in its time..."

One day, I hope to be a wife and a mother. The Bible doesn't say that a beautiful woman will automatically be a fabulous wife and mother. In fact, many times it discusses how beauty can lead to danger or how it doesn't last. Here are a few examples that I really enjoy because they are so descriptive!

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30
"Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion." Proverbs 11:22

So instead, I'd like to meditate on how it asserts that a woman who is noble in character is "worth far more than rubies." It doesn't say she's as beautiful as rubies. It says because of her character, she's worth more than precious jewels.

It says "[h]er husband has full confidence in her..." and that "[s]he opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." I want my future husband to be confident in my thoughts and actions, and I want to be generous with my time and my things.

This woman "is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Oh, to be classy and to not worry about the future!!

And finally, (I love this part!!), "[h]er children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her."

These are all taken from my favorite passage out of Proverbs entitled "The Wife of Noble Character." It's Proverbs 31:10-31. One day, with lots of prayer, patience, and dedication, I hope I am able to display that kind of character.

To all those mothers out there who are of noble character, I wish you a very happy and very blessed Mother's Day this coming Sunday. And to those women in my life who have displayed and continue to display these characteristics, you are beautiful and you are loved.