Monday, May 23, 2011

The Beauty Series: Working it...

My daughter loves to watch America's Next Top Model. I think her fascination is partly my fault.... I love reality tv. Not something I am proud of, but something I don't hide either. She's funny how she watches it, with all of her pragmatic and teenage attitude hung out there. The girls that whine get on her nerves, the mean-girls should be sent home immediately and she is often rooting for the underdog. The girl that is a little awkward, who's beauty isn't the obvious, jaw dropping, glamorous type but just simply takes your breath away in a photo is usually her favorite.

There is always a segment or even an entire episode devoted to "the walk." Besides taking stunning photos, these gals have to be able to walk down a runway in monstrous heels and incredible fashion contraptions to be able to be a "top model." Some of them are elegant, some are sassy or sexy and others clump down the runway like a moose on stilts. The coaches are often appalled at some of the walks they see and it does make for some very entertaining evenings. What makes it even more entertaining is the way that the girls will defend their particular style and even try to perfect it. They are non-plussed when told they "clump" or "stomp," it simply doesn't phase them. They are confident and controlled, knowing that in an industry that can chew them up and spit them out they need to find a way to stand out. If walking down a runway like some stampeding animal gets them looked at, they are perfectly willing to do just that. They are incredibly comfortable in their own skin. They like themselves, they don't kvech about being too this or too that, they don't whine about wanting more of anything, they just are and they are happy to be that. Ah, youth... But I digress.

There is a saying, "Happiness lies in wanting what you have, not in having what you want." You've met those kinds of people, haven't you? Those souls that have a calming effect on a room just by walking into it? If you look closely at them you may find that they aren't a perfect size two, or drop dead gorgeous by today's model standards. You may actually find that they don't differ greatly from the other people you regularly interact with, at least on a physical level. But you will notice that they have something the others don't have and that is a quiet confidence married up with humility, grace and patience. I know... Hits you where you live, doesn't it? It does me.

God wants us to get there too. He's our coach for our runway walk. He isn't trying to mould us into the same girl or boy, time after time. He wants us to strut our stuff just as we are, with confidence in His ability to use it, no matter what we think we are capable of. He wants to get credit as the designer, for certain, but He also wants us to remember that our uniqueness is our gift, direct from Him.

Each of us has a gift that God has given us to use in our lives. It's incredibly selfish and unfair of us to think that we all should have the same gifts, in the same order and same quantity as everyone else. We all have abilities given by the Father to do work He has designed for only us to compete. My level of humility will look different from my friends', and their grace will look different from mine, but I believe that God gives us each a measure of all of these things to use in our walk in order to bring Him glory. If we Christians all looked the same, it would be rather discouraging. I can tell you that I would never have accepted Christ if I had had to become some quiet, sit-in-the-corner personna that is a mere shadow of who I really am. Likewise, I know plenty of women who would die in their shoes if you told them that to be a Christian they had to stand up in front of every person they ever met from there on out and proclaim the Gospel loudly and forcefully. Luckily, God doesn't ask us to do that. He tailors our walk to the gifts He gives us and asks only that we respond in obedience.

God gives us what we need, when we need it. Our job is to want what we are given. We have to start deciding that our attitude is one of contentment in our gifts, no matter what others have around us, and a willingness to use those gifts however the Father decides is best. THAT is how we work it and strut our stuff! What part of your runway walk is God working on today?

Monday, May 9, 2011

the Beauty Series: What's in Your Make-up Bag?

Tools of the Trade, War Paint, Spackle... It has many different names and lots of different purposes. It is Make-Up. There is eye liner, mascara, foundation, blush, eye shadow, eye brow pencils, lip gloss, lip stick, lip balm not to mention, cover-up, wrinkle cream, exfoliation pads, eye cream, moisturizer and a host of other stuff that would take days to list. The items we carry in our make-up bags can baffle and frighten even the heartiest of souls. I don't know about you other gals, but my husband won't even venture in there for toothpaste!

While I will sit in the aisle of the local department store noodling over the latest cream that promises to make my skin look 10 years younger, I sometimes have a terrible time remembering what is in my spiritual make-up bag to deal with the wrinkles life tends to throw at me. So in true Bag Lady fashion, I thought I would list them out. If they are here, maybe I will be reminded to use them more often... you know, like that eye-shadow I "had to have" that sits in the back of my vanity drawers all dusty and neglected.

Item #1: My Bible. Yup. There it is, in all of it's myriad forms. I am never without a bible. If I don't have the one I usually carry to church with the lovely green cover and it's well worn onion skin pages, I always have my electronic one that sits patiently on my phone. So truly, I am never without it. Really it is the most important part of my make up bag. I can always find truth in it that I may not find in a devotional or another source. The Bible will never be questionable in its truth for me at any given moment. I have only to open it up and read... simple, not easy.

Item #2: Prayer. Ooof.... Yeah, another thing I am never without - Or rather, never without a way to do. God doesn't need anything from me but my willing heart to turn to Him in times of stress and hurt, worry or celebration. When I am faced with life that threatens to take me down into the dirt, I always have the ability to pray, eyes open or closed, head bowed or brow upturned to the sunshine. God simply wants me to talk to Him. No flowery prose, no need for even words if I cannot seem to put them together (and that can be a lot), He is always listening for my inner voice to reach out to Him for comfort. The nice thing is, I am never going to interrupt His day. He will never be in a meeting too important to listen to me and He will never put me on hold. God is eagerly awaiting my call. Why don't I do that more often?

Item #3: Godly Friends. The Lord wants us turning to Him first, but He also knows there are times that we simply need the touch or sound of another to help us through a crisis. Friends are not easy to come by in an age where digital media is so readily available. I have many acquaintances, but few friends. I count those souls one hand and I know that should I need one of them, I have only to reach out and they will be there. True friends are ones that don't have to give you advice, they can just sit and listen to you rant, cry or think out loud. Friends will correct you when you are wrong, confront you if needed and defend you when you are defenseless. Sometimes we are blessed with only one of these precious jewels. Other times we have a bounty. Whatever the case, remember your friends want you to ask them for help if you need it. There is no greater feeling in the world than that feeling of being needed by someone. It is such a privilege to be a friend, don't sell them short by keeping them at arms distance.

Item #4: Church. This can get tricky, but God want us in fellowship with other believers. Schedules will always be challenging, time is ever a shrinking commodity, but making time to be in the company of like-minded individuals is invaluable. It is an important tool in our arsenal against the Enemy. Most of us will never suffer the ravages of big spiritual attack, but there are those "little" things that can build up and separate us from our fellowship with the Father. Trust me, if it takes away from your quiet time with the Lord or it makes you not want to pray, it is a serious spiritual attack. Staying tuned in with a church body, be it a home church, a mega-church or a small town-one-room-jobby, is a huge step in setting up a defense against attacks that can come on sneaky feet. Isn't amazing how your pastor will speak on the very thing you have been struggling with all week long? That is no accident! God is using that dedicated teacher to give you encouragement. Show up, you never know what you might glean from it.

Item #5: Quiet Time. Devotions, no matter what form you like them delivered in, are a perfect tool to use in conjunction with all the other items I have listed here. It doesn't matter what you use to get yourself into the Word, but make sure you do it with a Bible sitting close by. If at any time you wonder if you are being taught the truth, compare it to the scripture. it should always line up and not contradict the Word of God. There are many kinds of devotions out there, from electronically delivered audio blurbs to think on, radio programs, written daily devotionals and many different Christian books. All of them can be great tools to keep you on the path of becoming more and more like our Risen Savior - And that is what it's all about, right? Take time to sit each day, if even for just five minutes, to think about and talk to God. He waits in the Living Room of your heart for you to sit with Him. Keep in mind he walked daily in the Garden with Adam and Eve before the whole "fruity incident" and that was His perfect design. It was us that messed it up (thanks Eve!), not Him. He still desires to walk with us daily and share in our lives those things we hold dear. Don't keep Him waiting, He longs to bless us with His presence.

These are just a few things I have in my Spiritual Make-up Bag... think about your own and leave me a comment (you can do so anonymously). I would love to hear what makes you feel connected and keeps you heading in and out of the Throne Room for encouragement.