September 29, 2012

Cultivating Beauty

Each day I get a "Daily Reading" from Ransomed Heart Ministries... a short excerpt taken from one of John Eldredge's books.  This particular one came from the book "Captivating", written by John and his wife, Stasi.

Every woman possesses a captivating beauty. Every woman. But for most of us it has been long buried, wounded, and captive. It takes time for it to emerge into wholeness. It needs to be cultivated, restored, set free. How do we cultivate beauty? How do we become ever more beautiful? By tending to our hearts with great care, as a master gardener tends to her work.

"My mother's sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected." ~Song of Solomon 1:6

Yes, life is harsh on a woman's heart. It has been so on your heart. The assault on our beauty is real. But Jesus is urging us now to care for ourselves, watch over our hearts (Prov. 4:23). The world needs your beauty. That is why you are here. Your heart and your beauty are something to be treasured and nourished. And it takes time. Every gardener knows this. In our age of instant makeovers and microwave meals, we don't like to wait. But a newly planted rose's presentation in its first year is nothing compared to its second. If properly cared for, its second year's display doesn't hold a candle to its third. Gardens need to become established; their roots need to go deep, through summer rains and winter frosts. A garden's beauty does not diminish with age, rather it takes years for it to become all that it can become. Our hearts need to feed on beauty to sustain them. We need times of solitude and silence. We need times of refreshment and laughter and rest. We need to listen to the voice of God in our hearts as He tells us what we need. Contrary to what the world claims, Beauty does not diminish with time; beauty deepens and increases. "Your latter glory will be greater than your former." True beauty comes from a depth of soul that can only be attained through living many years well.

As I read the passage, I found myself smiling and nodding my head in agreement.  Yes, all of this has been true of my journey... of the slow, carefully crafted, perfect work of God cultivating beauty in my heart and life.  He is the master gardener... growing, restoring and setting me free.  With each passing season... nourishing, pruning and tenderly watching over my heart, causing my roots to grow down deep in him.  In time, he is bringing forth a beauty that only his expert hand can bring.

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." ~2 Corinthians 3:18

Ever-increasing glory...

Ever-increasing beauty...

I wonder, how is God cultivating and bringing forth beauty in your life?


September 25, 2012

Mothering Hearts

When my children were young and would fall down and scrape their knees, I would scoop them up in my arms, hold them tight, and dry their tears until they faded away.  When the last bit of pain was gone, they would happily break free to run off and play again.

Now that they are teenagers, it isn't quite as easy as it was back then.  The things that bring them pain are much harder and more difficult to bear than the banged up knees of their childhoods.  The bumps and bruises of life at thirteen and fifteen can feel more like devastating, life-threatening injuries than minor cuts and scrapes that will heal and vanish quickly.

Mother's Day 2012

As their mother, I see and feel and know their ache and want so badly to wrap them up in my arms like I did when they were little, hold them close and take away their pain.  And though there is much that my mothering heart can offer, I know that ultimately, they need Jesus more than they need me.  Only he can truly take away their pain and meet their every need.  I can't and shouldn't rescue them like I did when they were small.  They need to learn to fall into the strong, loving arms of Christ and know with confidence that he will come for their hearts and care for them.

This morning, I held my beautiful, hurting girl tightly in my arms and tears trickled down both of our faces as we listened quietly to this song.

It speaks of the perfectly sufficient, all-comforting, mothering heart of God...

for her and for me.


"As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you."  Isaiah 66:13


September 24, 2012

That Kind of a Day

It's a don't-really-want-to-be-where-I-am kind of a day.

Where I'm wondering if there's more and we're missing it and I'm asking if we should be looking and pondering whether we've stopped.

It's the kind of day where discontent knocks on my door and begs to come in and settle down on my sofa to stay for a nice, long visit.  Where disillusionment feels like a warm, cozy blanket to snuggle with and hide under, rather than throw off and discard.

Sometimes it's easy to give way and believe the lie that the grass must be greener on the other side and then set out determined to find that lusher, greener, more beautiful grass.

I wonder... what does Jesus say to my questions?  Does he want me to answer the knock of discontent and snuggle under the blanket of disillusionment?  What does he think of me entertaining thoughts of ambitious quests for greener grass?

He says...  "Stay the course.  Hold fast.  Do not give way.  Keep the faith.  Embrace hope.  Feel desire deeply and stay in it, but do not be ruled by it.  Put your trust in me and be... who you are, where you are.  Be and keep being."

"Do not throw away your confidence, he said.  Do not budge from your perch, but sing your song, summer confident and sure of my great goodness toward you.  You did not bring this spring, dear child, you do not have to arrange for the summer to follow.  They come from thy Father's will and they will come."  ~from "The Journey of Desire" by John Eldredge

The tall, green grass and bright yellow wildflowers just a short walk from my home...


September 17, 2012

Mothers, Daughters and the Grace to Be

The email from her teacher came this morning telling us that she didn't do her Math homework.  She says she did it.  She just didn't do the other Math homework before the one in question.  She thinks her teacher probably made a mistake.

She learned from a friend late last night, right before bed, that she has a Science test today, but she didn't stay up late going over her notes to cram for the test, nor did she wake up early to study, just in case her friend was right.  She thinks they probably have the date wrong.

She has a Math test tomorrow, but she hasn't started preparing for it and she didn't look over any of the problems this weekend.  Instead, she took it easy, slept in late, went to dinner with friends, cheered wildly at her high school's football game, painted her nails a lovely, glowing shade of red and spent long, creative hours on Pinterest organizing boards for her future dream wedding in Italy and her stylish, on-trend virtual wardrobe.

And I want to scream and pull my hair out.

This girl God has given us is an absolute mystery to me.  I am crazy-wild about her and blessed to be her momma, but for the life of me, I cannot wrap my head around how her sweet little head works.  She's more creative than I have any idea.  She's dreamy and imaginative, easy-going and carefree.  There's very little drama with this girl, which I am immensely grateful for, but how to motivate her, how to push her to be all that she can possibly be?  

I struggle...

Oh, how I struggle.

I dropped her off at school early this morning so she could meet with her Math teacher.  She got out of the car, all smiles and sunshine with beautiful nails, and wished me a wonderful day.  "Bye Momma!  Have a good day!  I love you!" she called out in her sweet, sing-songy way, even after learning she's been grounded for the week due to the previously mentioned misses and a few others I didn't mention.

God love her.

I drive away from the school shaking my head.  Half laughing.  Half frustrated.  She's precious and I love her more than words could ever express, but my goodness... 

What's a mother to do?

I let out a deep sigh and say a prayer...  "Jesus, she's yours.  Once again, I release her to you.  Help me give her the freedom to fail and fall and make her own choices and feel the weight of them.  Help me give her the grace to be and the room to become all you intend her to be."

My sweet girl... 
this post was published with her permission and blessing.

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