When thinking you are ugly is bad for you

When did it begin for you? When did you look in the mirror and think thoughts of comparison, perfection, or confusion? I’m reading several books right now that have a common theme that could be summed up in one word “freedom”. As much as we live in the land of opportunity and freedom of expression we rate high in anxiety, depression, and judgment. We not only hold the yard stick up to ourselves but also to others who are not measuring up.  “Not me!” you say? If we really looked deep enough, and we were honest enough, there is this little child inside of us in the sandbox trying to figure out how to belong, and who in the sandbox needs to go. Sometimes our attitudes and actions are subtle–so subtle we don’t see it.

When you were a little baby and your caregiver or parent held you up to a mirror you squealed with delight. If you could talk, you would have said, “Look at this masterpiece! I’m fearfully and wonderfully made!” You wouldn’t see all the flaws that beauty experts convince you of and the product to cure the imperfection. No matter how large or small your nose was you’d point, smile, and push down your squishy nose and yell, “Nose!”

I have three beautiful daughters who went through the same “mirror on the wall” experiences. Oh how it pained me, as their mother, to see them fixated on a “flaw”, or tearful because someone pointed out their imperfection publicly at school. As much as we lament the younger years and their painful path despite our teachings, adults continue the discussion through wrinkled skin, sagging parts, and old wounds that haven’t healed.

I’d like to sit the universe down –all of us in one room–and watch this TED talk. I know. I know. You’ve seen a thousand TED talks.  BUT! This one convicted me, made me weep for any human who feels less than, and made me want to tell anyone who dehumanizes another soul to stop and reconsider.

Our word–FREEDOM

Can you imagine the freedom of a child who would hold no fear or judgment about their body image?

Can you imagine the freedom if you, as an adult, completely loved your body and adored every inch?

Can you imagine if we stopped glamorizing the impossible–air brushed pictures that have been altered and shown as the idolized human being?

It can start with us. Be FREE!  Thank you Meaghan Ramsey!

What do you magnify?

“What you meditate on, you will magnify.”

If I meditate on chocolate, come what may, I will be eating something chocolate by the end of the week. If I meditate on my problems, my life will be seen through a lens of little hope or promise. I eat, drink, sleep the problem. In some ways, this expression can be taken literally. I’ve been so consumed by a concern, that I can’t sleep and all that I do during the course of the day is laced with conversation and thoughts that impact your eating, or daily life activities.

meditate: verb, think deeply or carefully about (something).

To keep you from turning to God as your only source of hope, the problems we meditate on become our god, or our constant. Recurring situations play out that create patterns of thoughts that maybe something is wrong with me. I’m the problem. I’m marked or poor in spirit. Bound with fear or apathy we meditate, or think deeply about our shame and not God’s glory.

With so many self-help books out there, we can work on ourselves until we become exhausted from self-analysis. Desiring excellence and God’s best is not the sin or problem. It’s the focus.

When our children run out into the street, what is our focus? We quickly act to bring them to safety, but we also spend time showing them how to be safe. We move from “Get out of the street!” to all the wonderful ways they can have fun in the boundaries of their yard and home.

It’s in our nature to magnify the negative. We can be in the lap of luxury and complain about the food or service. We idolize a perfect day. Changing our mindset or focus to meditating on God’s promises and love, we can have a day filled with the Glory of God even if we get the phone call, deal with a teenager’s attitude, forget to take the trash out, or make mistakes on the job. You will never, ever, never have a perfect day. And, quite frankly, some days can be straight from hell–the perfect storm that caused the argument with your spouse or the slamming of a door on a desired dream.

Come before God with honesty, but, my friend, move your eyes and soul to the Word of God and His promises. His Word is our hope.

Be kind.

“Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy spirit, and so be at peace with one another.”

Talk to each other about God’s love.

” Talk with each other much about the Lord, quoting psalms and hymns and singing sacred songs, making music in your hearts to the Lord. Always give thanks for everything to our God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Brene’ Brown interviewed Viola Davis in her book Braving the Wilderness.  Viola shared

This is who I am.

This is where I am from.

This is my mess.

This is what it means to belong to myself.

I translated this mantra in my mind to God speaking to my life.  He says

I AM. (Exodus 3:14)

You are my child.

Give me your mess.

This is what it means to belong to Me.

Lord, help me to meditate on your Word, Your purpose in my mess, and the Glory of your eternal love. Help me to be kind to my sisters and brothers by extending mercy and grace. Lord, keep a song in my heart and Your goodness on my lips.

 

Chaos and Your Mosaic Life

The paradox.

Mirriam-Webster defines a paradox as

1.  a :a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true
     b :a self-contradictory statement that at first seems true
     c :an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises
2. one (such as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases
I’ve always delighted in the knowledge that order brings peace, and, if we are orderly, careful, and three steps ahead, we can almost guarantee the outcomes. As adults, we know the world is not perfect, but our attempts to make sense and order of things brings a sense of control. The paradox I’m finding and confirming through others is that chaos is where I’m most creative and challenged and beauty can happen.  Our brutal attempt to make sense of things and to bring order and control has become our nemesis. This is not an attempt to justify my messy life. It’s more an epiphany of the soul. I still desire a clean kitchen, and last night I made myself go through the clean laundry baskets, so when I woke up this morning, I did not have to spend 10 minutes (again) on finding underwear for the day.
What scientist have found is that we are most creative in our chaos. What God has revealed in His word, over and over again, is that our lives are a mystery, an unfolding of days that we could never imagine or aspire to understand the why.  So, instead of trying to control the waves, ride them.  Don’t ride them with panic, or apprehension. Ride them with anticipation and a secure mind. I could type so many verses that are a paradox. For example,

2 Corinthians 6:10 Living Bible (TLB)

 Our hearts ache, but at the same time we have the joy of the Lord. We are poor, but we give rich spiritual gifts to others. We own nothing, and yet we enjoy everything.

Just as scientist have studied cause and effect but can’t predict with perfect accuracy weather patterns, we are a masterpiece created by God (truth) with an unknown future. We are secure in His promises (the known) to walk through the unknown.

Your prescription for joy, which can co-exist with sorrow, is to be in God’s Word, to take Him at His Word, and to take action on that belief.

A royal official, took Jesus at His word (John 4:50). After a day of travel, he found Jesus. On rumors and stories about His power and love, this man desperately begged Jesus to come with him back to His house to heal his son. Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man first, “took Him at His word”, then left believing that he would find his son healed. Not only was his son healed, but his entire house believed in the name of Jesus.

Imagine your life as a perfect vase placed on a shelf–polished, protected, and pristine. An earthquake (life) knocks the vase from the shelf. Imagine the process of God and you writing your story with the shattered pieces.

I was inspired to write this post after a beautiful retreat weekend, readings, messages, and research. I also was inspired, because I can’t find a single soul on this planet who is not living in the paradox. Sit long enough over coffee with a friend or loved one, and you will discover their own personal chaos. So, if chaos is inevitable, how do we live? I think this young lady found out very quickly in life how to embrace chaos, or this messy life.

“So much beauty can come from chaos,” says Anna Kauffman in this story of personal suffering and overcoming. Her story shows how we can create new perspectives and ideas from our personal chaos.”

Remember, we have a personal God that writes a story from our personal chaos.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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,

 

 

30 Day Challenge for Joy

This weekend was the Mother/Daughter retreat for Camp Willow Run. The speaker, Sharon Glasgow, spoke to us on the prescription for joy as she told one amazing life story after another. She was a master storyteller. You would imagine yourself in the middle of the story laughing or crying.

cwrGROUPPIC

The entire weekend was filled with connections with my daughter, lifelong friends, and most of all Jesus. We all have our God story, and all of us were there working on our “soul stuff”.

The soul work was overwhelming, and this box car, sleeping mama is too tired to process that into words on a blog, but I do want to share the prescription for joy and a 30 day challenge with you.

Definition of joy: complete faith that God will walk with you through anything you are going through and provide His love, power, and wisdom. It’s not happiness (i.e. chocolate cake, Krispy Kreme doughnuts that are warmed and placed in your box, a day off from work due to snow, or a clean house, etc.)

Prescription: Eat, Believe, Live

  • Eat God’s word every day and know His Word
  • Believe what you are reading is true and true for YOU
  • Live your life as if the scriptures you believe to be true will happen. Meaning….don’t wait for the plan, take a step of faith or action before the answer is revealed

You have to do all three or the prescription doesn’t work. You can read your Bible, but if you don’t believe it’s true for you, or you don’t act upon it, well, the same-old, same-old will happen. If you want a revelation you have to do all three. For me, step three is the hardest.

She told a story that God called her to sing on the school bus, Amazing Grace, when she was 12 years old after her mother was raced to the hospital.  Her mother’s possible death would have left her in a very difficult situation as her mom was a single parent with three children. Her God shared with her that singing would cast out fear–PRAISE ME! She stood up on her bus and shared her heart and sang–off  key. Pretty soon, after the teasing, folks started singing with her. The bus driver called her over after the bus was emptied. She started crying. “When you sang a wretch like me, God touched my heart.” She told Sharon of her life story and how wretched she felt, but that morning she believed if a 12 year old girl could stand up and sing off key, certainly she  could begin to know this Jesus who loves us.

Your Challenge:

1. For 30 days read the following verses:

  • Ephesians 1: 16-21
  • Ephesians 3: 16-21
  • John 7: 20-24

2. Eliminate anything from your life that does not glorify God. If it distracts or goes against God’s glory–fast from it.

3. Journal your days, and be honest about what God is doing in your life. Be real and open to His amazing love for you.

If you do the 30 day challenge, and you want to share, I’d love to hear what God is doing in your life.

 

New Beginnings

Today was the first day back to school for most. I know some divisions started over three weeks ago, but just imagine, today, being the first day.  Yesterday, I was in a strange place. Trying to figure out how to say goodbye to summer and hello to school, sports, dance, homework, and the myriad of lists of things to do. I had a sense of confusion, a tad of panic if I went to far out on the calendar, and sadness–time marches on, my babies get older. Between my youngest trying on her outfit and me trying to pretend I was a member of the Starfleet Academy (I was watching Star Trek), we were all trying to cope with “the night before”.

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The morning comes and all your prep work plays out. I purposed to wake up early and exercise, and my favorite spot to do so was totally revamped! I showed up after a summer of lazy daisy, opened the door to bright walls painted, floors redone, no hot yoga smells, and smiling faces asking me if I took the challenge! Yes! I’m here to take the challenge! I can’t tell you how this NEW made me change my mindset. A coat of paint, a new floor, decluttering….WOW! What a metaphor.

yoga

http://bikramyogarichmond.com/

So, I challenge you my friend.  I know it’s strange getting a year older, and maybe your life is humdrum, or maybe you are in insane chaos, but you can have new beginnings.

I encourage you to take a challenge in one or two areas of your life, join Starfleet Academy, and “make it so number one”.

make-it-so

Your categories are simple–

Spiritual–What are you doing to be mindful, prayerful, and/or connecting with God?

Intellectual–What are you doing to stretch your mind and learn something new, take a risk?

Physical–What are you doing to take care of your temple, or body?

Emotional–What are you doing to care for your emotions? Could you benefit from counseling? Laughing? A meaningful cry with a great friend?

My goal is to go to hot yoga for 3x a week for one month, and to create a habit of going. I need a physical make over. The other categories are grooving for now and some are on overload.  I need balance.

My brain is full, but my bum is wide. You get me.

NEW BEGINNINGS! Take the challenge–I dare you!

The first person to respond to me with their challenge, gets one free session to Bikram Hot Yoga!

LEAP!

Living your dream and taking courageous steps can be a little overwhelming. In our retreat RENEW we learned from our teachers to be filled with the Holy Spirit, renew our purpose, renew our thoughts, words, and actions, and renew our bodies–our temple. Often we hangout in comfort zone land or, even worse, stagnant station, because we fear and criticize. We fear taking a first step because we may look foolish or get negative feedback, and we are quick to judge the steps of others.

Peter walking on the water is a story told often, and our efforts to live our dreams courageously as well as encourage others can be found in this miracle. Chelsea reminded us that our thoughts become actions. Peters thoughts of courage got him out of the boat, and his thoughts of fear, while in the middle of his courageous act, caused him to slip. Now, we all agree, that if Peter had not slipped that story would be a little different. Somehow his humanity helps us.  It is true.  We take a leap of faith, and, we know, some leaps miss the lily pad.

lily pad

That needs to be expected and okay. I want a life filled with leaps, and like Karen shared, the confidence that Jesus will lift me up when I miss the mark, and friends to encourage me in the journey. What am I doing in this thing called life that not only can give a word of encouragement to others, but also stretch myself to consider new possibilities. Unlimited possibilities. The disciples in the boat witnessed Peter’s journey. I want to be courageous enough to step out of the crowd and go for it! It might be as simple as being courageous enough to start taking better care of your health, or, maybe, changing your career. We do not judge a leap by it’s distance or height! A leap is a leap. Leap on my friend!

Your leap just might encourage others to take a leap. When Neil Armstrong took his courageous step on the moon, we were awestruck! Maybe you wont literally walk on the moon in your lifetime, but your courageous steps are noticed by others and “mankind” is changed.

moon

Let’s start a renewal of acknowledging the filling of His Spirit in us to do the impossible, the importance of communion with our Savior through prayer and reading His Word, the caring of our temple and breathing–live in the moment, the determined focus of renewing our purpose and thoughts.

Be refreshed, restored, and renewed….

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly without fear for newer and richer experiences.” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

RENEWED by PRAYER

In preparation for our WOW retreat this weekend, I had a moving experience listening to a speaker’s video. Leslie can’t be with us, so she created a video of her session for the girls to watch. Her topic is prayer; our theme is RENEW! I was instantly renewed in my prayer life after listening. She was honest about her experiences in developing a prayer life with just enough humor to remind you of our humanity. Prayer is not a lofty pursuit, but a humble, communion with our Father. I committed to wake up and practice some of the principles on prayer she suggested from Priscilla Shirer’s book Fervent.  By the way, GREAT book to read.  I was deeply surprised not only to hear my voice, but also how God spoke to my heart during this sweet time with Him.  Honestly, I wondered, where do I start? After looking through all the church bulletins, pictures, and notes in my Bible, I thought, “Okay, Anna, get focused, and start from the beginning of the Gospels–Matthew, Chapter 1.  I confess, I skipped over the lineage of Christ, but I did remind myself of a few names like Abraham, King David, etc.  My daddy and I were talking the other morning and, at 80 something years old, he pondered why we overthink “the story of Jesus and His love”. We try to dress it up so folks will consider it, but the simple story of Jesus, all by itself, without bells and whistles, can change your heart. Here are my beginnings into my renewal in prayer. Thank you Leslie for your wisdom and passion for prayer.  I can’t wait for the girls to hear your video and be inspired!

https://spark.adobe.com/video/liJiVnBwx8PuX/embed