Often life is hard, but God is always good

Posts tagged ‘beauty’

Abounding in Love and Faithfulness

Photo Credit: Lisa Widerberg

Photo Credit: Lisa Widerberg

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Exodus 34:6 NIV

I first heard that the Lord “abounded in love and faithfulness” from my grandmother, Dorothy Clay Watson, aka “Grandmummy”.

She has gone to glory, but her own faithful declaration of the constant affection of the Lord for me built a solid foundation for my soul.

Every time I stayed overnight at her house, my Grandmummy walked with me up the creaky stairs to the spare bedroom. She paused at the landing to retrieve a silver candlestick with a candle stub that she would light. This magical ritual culminated in our kneeling by the bed to sing songs as a nighttime benediction by candlelight.

Precious.

Recently, I crooned one of these holy songs to my own infant granddaughter as I rocked her by the crib before putting her to bed:

Jesus loves me — this I know

For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to Him belong

They are weak but He is strong

Refrain: Yes, Jesus loves me! 
Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me! 
The Bible tells me so

(Original poem by Anna Barlett Warner, Hymn by William Batchelder Bradbury)

The faithfulness of God is yours and mine from our birth to our present moment.

My eyes with the clarity of heavenly sight look back and see He has kept his pledge to love me always. He has protected, re-directed, and placed strategic people in my life.

Can you see the evidence of His faithfulness to you?

May we “pay it forward” by proclaiming to others the wonder of our dependable, steadfast God who loves us forever.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is your faithfulness, Oh Lord. ©1974, 1975 Celebration / Written by Edith McNeill

More to Come – Looking at a Bright Future

Photo Credit: Howard Ignatius

Photo Credit: Howard Ignatius

“We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1: 2,3 NIV

The apostle Paul visited the city of Thessalonica and spent a brief but fruitful time preaching in the Jewish synagogue and encouraging new converts, Jewish and Gentile, “and some prominent women” to continue in their faith.   Heckling, threats, and a riot conspired to drive him on to Berea as the next missionary stop, but the Thessalonian believers remained rooted in their Christian faith and in Paul’s heart as evidenced by the two letters he wrote them which are now part of the New Testament canon.

“Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brother, to do so more and more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:9 NIV

I was struck by the sincere admiration Paul expressed for the Thessalonian Christians and his heartfelt commendation for their love, their work and their faith. This is not flattery or cloaked criticism – not the “sandwich” method of saying something positive before and after a hard, negative truth.

So let me be your “Paul” – reminding you of the work, labor, endurance, and love of your present life. God sees all of it and smiles. Our heavenly Father is a good supportive parent, so allow me to direct your attention to all the good stuff and applaud you.

But you have more purpose and more acts and more love in your future. Like my little grandbaby who at five months is just learning to roll over and has so much more to do (like crawling), we are urged to keep on growing and doing.

“Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are now living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1 NIV

This applies to us no matter our stage in life.

Although Paul urges the Thessalonians (and us) to do more and more, he clearly points to the power source – God – who fulfills his purposes through our lives:

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11 NIV

Our future prospects glow with promise.  There is more to come.

Am I Lovely? – Part 2

Photo Credit: Girish Suryawanshi

Photo Credit: Girish Suryawanshi

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles, and the wearing of gold jewelry, or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (I Peter 3:3-4 NIV)

I apologize profusely to my readers, but I am still wrestling with the concept of my own beauty even at my “over the hill” age. I am saddened and ashamed that I didn’t come to peace with it when I still had my raven black hair and smooth skin.

So today, I return to this timeless treasure from the Lord about what he values: not the hair, not the jewelry, and definitely not the clothes, though a careful reading of these verses indicate this is not a ban on those fun and creative ways to adorn ourselves.

God sees me and considers of greatest worth to be… my inner self.

Ah ha! So what is my inner self?  And is it beautiful?

I dug deeper and uncovered the nugget that “inner self” is not the equivalent of personality; so “gentle and quiet” are not synonyms for our common modern day words “follower”, “introverted” and “not talkative”. (I am none of these)

Instead, these lovely words mean a heart at rest.

Stasi Eldredge gives the most lyrical description of a woman with a restful heart in her book Captivating: “A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that he finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in him, she is enough. In fact, the only thing getting in the way of our being fully captivating, and enjoyed is our striving. “ (p. 134-135)

So, today, I have washed my hair, and put on a pretty scarf, and lotioned my face prior to applying make up, but I also have put my face up to be figuratively kissed by my Heavenly Father who told me this morning: “I love you just as you are – you don’t have to do a thing.”

“Beauty flows from a heart at rest.”

(Stasi Eldredge, Captivating)

“Am I Lovely?” Every Woman’s Question

 

"Borrow Somebody's Dreams" Photo Credit: Stefano Corso

“Borrow Somebody’s Dreams” Photo Credit: Stefano Corso

 

It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; 
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,” 
And your land, “Married”;
 For the Lord delights in you, 
And to Him your land will be married.” Isaiah 62: 4 (NASB)

Am I delightful? Am I lovely? Well, maybe I was – at some earlier time as a little girl dancing around the backyard in the wind, or a young woman with runner’s legs and long black hair. But am I – this over-fifty woman, tired, overweight and wrinkling- could I be – lovely still?”

This central feminine question begs an answer no matter the age – even the young beauty with her iphone capturing that alluring “selfie” asks it. When I was young I stabbed my own heart with this query, doubting and worrying because I looked at my physical imperfections with such hateful judgment.

“What if you have a genuine and captivating beauty that is marred only by your striving?” (Stasi Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul)

I wasted my years of youthful beauty and I watch young women around me doing the same. How is it that we can see so clearly the loveliness of our friends – their wide generous smiles, bubbly laughter, fun curly hair, sparkly eyes, smooth skin -and have no vision for our own?

I hope that age will not steal my beauty. As Charles Dickens wrote, “Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers, and are famous preservers of good looks.”

Author Stasi Eldredge teaches us, “beauty is an essence that is given to every woman at her creation…because she bears the image of God. She doesn’t have to conjure it, go get it from a salon, have plastic surgery or breast implants.”

God thinks we are lovely. At any age. Really, He does.

I am beginning to believe it.

 

 

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