Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Characters of the Week

They've made me crazy and they've melted my heart. We've laughed and we've cried. We've tickled and we've timed-out. It hasn't been smooth sailing all the way, but as I'm nearing the end of my end of this exchange, I'm trying to savor the ways these children stir my soul.

Kendrick can flash a smile in an instant that melts your heart. We cuddled on the floor today and read some books. He's built like a body builder and climbs everything like a monkey, but I pray that he uses his flair for adventure to do great and mighty things for God.

My little tickle monster Zeke has loved his cousins and told us many times in his most squeaky, excited voice that, "It's gonna be fun!" He's such a fun loving little guy.

Cavett wears his heart on his sleeve and I love him for it. Just now (it's nap time/movie time), he tip-toed downstairs and came around the corner to whisper in my ear that he loved me. And I love my Cavett.
It's not always easy being the only princess among the many superheroes, but my beauty is learning grace and contentment with circumstances. She rules the roost, but loves fully. I pray that she uses her passions constructively- affecting this broken world for the Kingdom of God.
What a week.
Tomorrow... Portland, Oregon.
But today, I'm relishing the time I have left with these crazy, wonderful kids.

Double Trouble

Yesterday when I was trying to get the big kids ready for bed, it became earily quiet in the backyard. And as any momma knows, too quiet is always a red flag for trouble.

The best part? After I got them dressed this morning, they took a fully dressed dip again.

You have to laugh because if you don't, you lose your mind!

Love these little boys!!!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Worth a thousand words

Kind of how I feel today.

Lord, send forth your light and your truth...

art by Allison Livingston

Monday, July 27, 2009

His body is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires: Talitha Koum!

My heart has been moved by the story of Jarius.

Our own modern day Jarius, John Henson, is living it out as he sits by his daughter's hospital bed and my husband taught it yesterday at church.

Mark 5:21-26 highlights so many aspects of Jesus' character and power, but I keep thinking about how it mostly showcases His deep desire to show compassion- a compassion that is selfless and inconvenient yet exacting and unrelenting.

"...His body is carved with ivory inlaid with sapphires." Song of Songs 5:14

This Hebrew word for "body" is also translated as God's compassion. Maybe it's a little bit like what I felt last night when I heard Jinny's voice on the interview last night. Deep down in my gut, I felt profound empathy and sorrow for my friend as she sees her daughter through this horribly dark time. And I'm sure it's just a fraction of the way the heart of God feels.

The fact is, I get impatient and distracted a lot of times when I'm asked to pray. I can't relate and I can't see the pain and I can't get past myself to be sent to my knees. But the Lord sees it all. He sees every little girl in a hospital room and the pain they're going through. He sees every mother's tears and pleas for help. He sees every father's earnest desperation for a cure. He sees every hurt feeling and every wound of our hearts and He is moved to show up, show mercy, and showcase His deep and unfathomable compassion.

Jarius asks Jesus to heal his little girl. Actually, he "pleaded earnestly with him." So Jesus goes. He doesn't rush off like Jarius would like because he's not motivated by fear- just his great compassion. He heals the woman who touches his cloak on his way- effortlessly. He is met with jeers of unbelief, expels doubters, and then brings the ones who've asked him to come in with him. He takes this twelve year old girl by the hand and commands life to come forth. "Talitha koum!" (Mark 5:41)

Jesus told everyone there not to spread the news. For whatever reason, he didn't want the news to get out and so it may have just been easier not to heal this little girl. But I believe that when we call to Him and plead earnestly, His heart is moved to action.

"And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?" Luke 18:7

Having experienced just a little bit of what the Father feels for His children, I know He won't keep putting us off.

"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15

He has great compassion. (Psalm 103:8, Psalm 111:4, Psalm 145:8, Joel 2:13) He hears our cries and is moved. (Exodus 22:27, Psalm 4:3, Psalm 5:3, Psalm 10:17, Psalm 65:2, Psalm 94:9)

People all over the world are praying for Maggie Lee, just like Jarius's daughter. Just today, my mother-in-law called from Birmingham, AL, saying that the guy who came out to install the alarm at my sister-in-law's new house had heard about Maggie Lee and had his whole church praying.

Miracles happen. And I believe that the collective cry that is going forth to the throne of God is going to stir up a great "TALITHA KOUM!" from the belly of our beautiful King.

I just believe.

"...His body is carved ivory inlaid with sapphires." Song of Songs 5:14

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Great Exchange

My sister and I have embarked upon the great exchange. Her kids are staying in Shreveport while she and her hubby go on va-cay, then I'm driving them to Dallas next week and she keeps my duo while Jack and I jet off to the west coast.

So here we are.

Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, banana phone.

We're singing, we're having fun.

We take a trip to Shreveport Community Church's Cafe and Kid City. Free. Fun. Glass enclosed four level playland. Genius.

Did I mention they proudly brew Starbucks coffee? I partook.

Twice the kids means twice the questions and twice the admonishments to follow the rules and twice the poops (both Z and K decided that the playland would be a great place to drop a deuce), but it also makes for twice the fun.

By the time we were done at Kid City, it was time for a little more play and a little lunch at Nana's.

After a little nappy nap, we head out for some fun in the sun.

There was a little more wandering than I would have liked, but the kids for sure had fun.

So I thought an enclosed area would be better. And since we were already wet, I thought BB and Pop Pop's baby pool would be a good idea.

It was a good idea.

For about 20 minutes.

We were wiped out.

Maybe... just maybe... I Onion Creeked us today.

But I don't want to miss this. I know it's a lot of work, but I want my nephews to remember special times with the aunt and uncle and cousins in Shreveport who love them.

And man... am I thankful for that Nana!

Fun times today. Five more days to come.

Don't worry about us Jenny. WE'RE FINE!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

For Bethany

I've been praying for my friend and the little girl that she has on her heart to welcome into her family for some time now. Bethany's adoption is imminent and it's been quite a different experience having a friend who is pregnant with expectation of new life without the big belly and morning sickness that usually comes with it all. Home studies and social workers replace doctor's visits and prenatal vitamins in this kind of pregnancy. It's been a singular blessing watching all of it unfold and my mind has turned more than once to what the Lord is speaking through the concept of adoption.

Last night, I thought about Moses and his adoption. How his mother sent him down the river because she knew she would be unable to save his life otherwise. In an act of desperation, she actually put her baby boy in a basket to be whisked away down the Nile River. It was her way of fighting for her baby's life.

Somewhere out there, Bethany has a birth mother who is going to have the courage to send her baby girl to another family. It's her way of fighting for her baby's life.

Lydia and John have filled out stacks of paperwork and worked endlessly on postcards and dinners and interviews. It's their way of fighting for Bethany's life.

It seems wrong, but as it is, there seems to be a ransom for this baby's life. Standing in the way of this little one starting life in a family that loves her and will call her their own and a life of bouncing around in foster care and ending up who knows where is a very large sum of money that must be paid.

So our way of fighting for this baby's life is contributing- even if it's a little bit- to this financial obstacle.

Our God is clear throughout scripture how he feels about orphans and He declares himself to be a father to the fatherless. (Psalm 68:4-6, Exodus 22:22, Jer 49:11, James 1:27)

If you'd like to join me at a virtual table for the fundraiser that just might save a little girl's life (I'm very sad I can't be there in person), you can go to Lydia's website to donate (non-tax deductible) or send a check (tax-deductible).

Join with the Lord in doing for Bethany what He's done for us all.

Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT) "Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure."

Miracles Happen

Been touched by all the prayers and all the love swirling around Maggie Lee. Check out today's caringbridge entry and know that God is able to turning mourning into dancing.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A wedding list

Don't you just love weddings?

I decided I like them so much, a list of my favorite features of the Dent/Monette wedding was in order. In honor of my little brother and his beautiful new bride, here's my top 10:

1. The beauty of it all - from the flowers to the bride herself, it was simply beautiful.

2. As is true with most family weddings, there are the hugs from aunts and uncles and cousins and grandmothers that you've gone too long without. I love how an event like this brings us back together- if even for a short time.

3. Specific to the Dent/Monette wedding was the wonderfully graceful and classy way my mom pulled off having to throw a party on her own. She stood with such bold love and grace as she toasted and blessed Amber and Jonny at the rehearsal dinner. The waterworks turned on early and often at the sight and sound of this beautiful woman. I've never been more proud of my momma.

4. Okay, so maybe I'm biased, but I think we had the most beautiful flower girl and the most handsome "ringmaster" on the face of the planet. Even though no rings or flowers were actually handled, these bell ringers provided great entertainment for the pre-game show.

I mean really... how cute are they?

5. The bride's bouquet toss was a riot. My grandmother and mom got all up in the action and I'll never forget my cousin Sarah consoling Memaw as she was escorted away empty-handed. "Maybe next time, Memaw!" It was hilarious.

6. And then there's the dancing. The band was great- some kind of jazz trio- and let me tell brother has some moves. I was honored to get the last dance with the groom and lucky that his fast movin patent leather shoes didn't catch my bare feet (I had the cutest, most uncomfortable shoes ever!)

7. The way Amber held back her tears and squeaked her way through the vows. Her heart was moved and it moved us all.

8. The way my brother wiped her tears away. So sweet.

9. The prayers that the love of my life lifted up over these two. Again, I'm partial, but I love the way my husband pours words of love over couples at weddings, lifting them up to the One who created man for woman. He seems to be asked to do that a lot and I love it.

10. The union itself - the Lord joining Amber and Jonathan in a holy and gloriously intimate relationship, reminding us of the great love He has for us.

So here's to the happy couple. Congrats, Jonny and Amber! Love and blessings for your journey through life together!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A prayer

I was asked to offer the intercessory prayer this morning at church. I feel compelled to share it here, that some of you might lift up my church and all affected by the accident with me. From London to Atlanta, from children to grandparents- I know you've been joining with me in coming before the Lord with this and I thank you. I thank the Lord what He's done so far and I thank Him for providing us words to pray even when we don't know where to start. I plan on coming back to these scriptures again and again:

We lift our eyes up to the hills- where does our help come from? Our help comes from You Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121)

You are forgiving and good, O Lord; You turn darkness into light. (2 Samuel 22:31)

You are a shield for all who take refuge in You (2 Samuel 22:31)

We praise you Lord for hearing our cries and for taking us this far (2 Samuel 7:18)

You've told us that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to you, Jesus (Matthew 28:18)

And so we ask that you would hear our prayer, O Lord, and listen to our cries for mercy. In our days of trouble we will call to You, for You will answer us (Psalm 86:6-7)

In our grief, we pray that you, the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort would be near to the hearts of the family and friends who lost their loved one in this accident (2 Cor 1:3). We pray that we would experience your peace and that we would rest in the hope of the resurrection, knowing that one Day, we will see you and we will rejoice, and no one will take away our joy. (John 16:22)

Heal Maggie Lee, O Lord, and she will be healed; save her and she will be saved, for you are hers, the One she praises. (Jeremiah 17:14) We pray for dialating pupils, for sustainable pressure, and for continued work in the miracle you are doing in this your precious little girl. We pray that her parents would sense your great love and presence amidst all the tubes and tests and trials that come with such trying circumstances.

For all those injured in this accident, Lord, we pray for the peace of God that passes all understanding to guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). We pray for continued bodily healing and the comfort that comes from you. That they would be strengthened in the strength that comes from you.

For all of us at the church, Lord, that Your perfect love would cast out all fear (1 John 4:18). Encourage us with your words (1 Thess 4:18). Strengthen us with your love. We pray that you would use all our circumstances to bring glory to your name. Let us tell the world of the good things that you have done at FBC. Let it be a testimony of your great faithfulness to Shreveport, to our country, and to the ends of the earth. Let the trees on our front lawn remind us that you have called us to be oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor (Isaiah 61:3). Let us rise to the challenges we face as a church family, remembering that you have promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Empower us to love you and praise you all of our days with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength. (Deut. 6:5)


You can get updates on Maggie Lee at her caringbridge website.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails

It almost felt like a football Saturday in the fall this morning. A break from the humidity and heat drew us outside to the front yard.

And the dirt and leaves attracted my little boy.

Anna Grace's comment?

"That is SO not princess-like."

Very true. And very good.

Also- we're praising the Great Physician this morning for Maggie Lee's continued progress!
Intracranial pressure is down, kidneys are working, lungs and heart stable. Praise God!
Maggie Lee's initials = MLH = My Lord Heals. Awesome.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How to decorate for your imaginary friend's sixteenth birthday

Just take some strips of Christmas wrapping paper, add a little Scotch tape, and you're all set.

How I've missed Junior...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The burden to love

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” CS Lewis
"Carry one anothers burdens; in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

Someone posted this Galatians verse on a Facebook status update from Maggie Lee's dad. It hit home. I'm trying to carry this burden with my friends without being fearful. What a fine line to walk. My heart feels so heavy.

Tomorrow, festivities begin for my brother's wedding this weekend. It will be a strange transition for me to move from mourning to celebration and have the two mix in my heart like oil and water. At the same time, I feel like the Lord is reminding me that in the end, there's going to be a Wedding without death and without suffering and without pain. He holds Maggie Lee, loves her, is near to her, and WILL take care of her. She will be at that wedding even though she is suffering great afflictions presently.

Until that great Wedding Day, I'll do my best to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15) I'll do my best to not give way to fear. (1 Peter 3:6)

I'll do my best. We'll all do our best. And the Lord will give us great strength. Because that's just what He does.

Revelation 19:7-9 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And He added, 'These are the true words of God.'"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Praising and Pleading

I lost my dad in a car accident several years ago, so the events surrounding this latest tragedy has taken a toll on my heart. Maybe it would be just as hard if I hadn't already been through something like this, but a deep place in my heart is in constant pain- for Brandon's family, for Maggie Lee and her family, for Lauren and her family and for everybody who was on that bus. My little sister told me "I was just crying and crying as I prayed for them. I never would have cried like that before. I guess I know what the pain feels now. It breaks my heart because I understand exactly how those families are hurting."

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."

Comfort. "To strengthen much." "Com-Fort" as in the Lord is our Fortress.

One thing that seems to have come from my own experience with this kind of pain is that the Lord has placed me in relationship with all kinds of people who are suffering in some way and because of my experience, I can empathize and I can know how to war in prayer. My heart bleeds as the band-aid on the wounds of my heart seem to be ripped off in times like
these, but it's where the Lord has me. He's called me to step in and step up and pray with all my heart.

We are blind to that realm of reality in which angels fight and demons rage. I have no idea how it happened that that tire blew on I-20 Sunday morning. What I DO know and what I WILL forever stand upon is that the Lord works ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) It has been my
mantra ever since I got that first devastating
phone call. He is able to redeem and our hope is firm that in the end, He WILL make all things new. (Revelation 21:5) It is the confession of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us [Maggie Lee- fighting for life] from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not [Brandon-delivered into the arms of the Lord], we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:17-18)

We will not bow down to unbelief. We will not bow down to despair. We will not bow down to seeking our own kingdoms and praising you in prosperity but not in the midst of the storms of life.

We're hopeful and we're heartbroken. We're praising and we're pleading. We're resting in the Lord and we're relentless in praying for a miracle. And it's in that place that we are built up, strengthened, comforted, and made more and more ready to prepare the way of the Lord because we know the pain of a broken world.

Romans 5:3-5 "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Come, Lord Jesus. Heal. Comfort. Strengthen. We have no hope without You.

photos from Shreveport Times

Monday, July 13, 2009

One thing I hate

I hate car accidents. And I hate bus accidents.

When I got to church yesterday, there was a small group of people just outside the entrance whispering and from what I could tell, it was about an accident. My heart said "move on." Surely it wasn't anybody I knew.

But when I walked into the service, I got the news. A church service I'll never forget.

Our church's youth group left yesterday morning to go to a camp in Georgia. Around Meridian, Mississippi, a tire blew, they flipped, and the 23 people on board all sustained injuries- and one of them lost their life.

A bus of National Guard including triage nurses had been right behind them and came upon the scene. They were able to move the bus upright (three of the passengers were pinned under the bus). Who knows what would have happened had they not been there.

So, one death, multiple injuries, and sweet Maggie Lee fighting for her life this morning. She's sustained a severe brain injury and needs surgery, but they have to get her intracranial pressure down first. She's in a coma. Maggie Lee is precious. Full of life. Loves my kids. Loves kids in general. Loves people in general. Loves dogs and accessories. I'm heartbroken for her parents.

But we have a great hope in a great big God who has already shown His power in so many ways.

Keep praying for my church and for Maggie Lee especially.

I hate car accidents. Hate them.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Redefining Beauty

I was on the balcony of our condo, resting with a book and enjoying the lull of the ocean waves in the afternoon when my little girl woke up from her nap. With tangled hair and eyes squinting in a groggy stupor, she came to me and said, with all seriousness, that when she saw me, she knew that I was "a mystery to be discovered." What a little prophetess.

A couple of weeks ago, a Bible study question relit a fire in my heart to know what it means to be a woman, to be beautiful, to be a mystery to be discovered. It's a discovery I've longed for as I search for truth among a lie-ridden culture of death. It's a discovery that I know is essential as I am entrusted with bringing up a daughter to know the truth about herself and the beauty she has to offer the world. It's a discovery that I know will bring freedom to my own heart and the hearts of women who've been wounded by the lies of the Enemy, by the culture that distorts beauty and devalues women, and by the fallen people around them who knowingly or unknowingly deepen the wounds of our hearts.

It's very clear that there is a deep rooted problem in the hearts of women today. It's clear that we don't fully grasp what our beauty is or how it can be found or even that we are beautiful at all. What's not as clear is how to find healing and restoration- to find our true beauty and live it out as God intended. But as elusive as our redemption feels, the Lord is waiting to impart it. His promise in Jeremiah still rings true today: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11) Our Healer, Redeemer, the One who restores is ready. We need to seek Him out. He is able to restore our hearts to know what He intended for Eve before the Fall. And for her restoration after it.

What I've found that might be the beginning of the journey:

1. Gazing at the beauty of the Lord

"Beauty is the essence of God." John and Stasi Eldredge

"We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves." C.S. Lewis

"One thing I will ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord." King David, Psalm 27:4 (emphasis mine)

We were made for Beauty. In the beginning, man and woman were beautiful and glorious and surrounded by a gloriously beautiful garden. Our hearts have longed for it ever since.

Beauty itself is David's "one thing." It's no doubt that the Lord himself is stunning- the words John uses in Revelation to describe the beauty he encounters seem to be inadequate to truly capture all that he saw and felt. And even though all of us won't have visions of the Lord in all his unfathomable beauty in this life, we see echos of it, dim reflections of it in a million little ways if we open our eyes to see it. Just this week, I saw it in the glimmer of the sunlight dancing off of the ocean, the delight in my children's eyes as they ran and played, the sparkle in Jack's grandmother's beautiful smile. But it always leaves us longing for something more, doesn't it?

In our current state, in our waiting for the Lord to literally come back and restore all things to the glory of the garden, we seek His beauty by gazing at Him in prayer, meditation, and service. We spend time with Him, going where He leads and giving ourselves to what He's called us to do. We seek Him out and look for the beauty of his character that is the source of this beautiful Man's light and truth. And one Day, we will see his beauty in all its glory. Face to face.

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall be know fully, even as I am fully known." I Corinthians 13:12

2. Knowing the beauty that is ours

It's a Sunday school answer that we tend to shrink back from and fight, but the truth is that the beauty of our spirit- the beauty imparted by the Lord Himself- is the source of our true beauty. We must gaze at the beauty of the Lord and pattern our own inside to outside beauty after His. We must start with Him, adorning ourselves with His love and His character if we are to find beauty at all. It's not corny and it's not untrue. We are only as beautiful as the Love we possess.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth." I Peter 3:2-4

Love casts a quietness and gentleness over our spirits. Not that we're passive or weak. Quite the contrary. We have great strength as we possess spirits at rest. As Stasi Eldredge puts it, "To have a gentle and quiet spirit is to have a heart of faith, a heart that trusts in God, a spirit that has been quieted by his love and filled with his peace. Not a heart that is striving and restless."

I think I've shyed from embracing my beauty as a woman because I've never really been much of a "girly girl." I've distanced myself from womanliness because I prefer camping and running to shopping and spas, but also because I've associated being a girl with weakness. And who wants to be weak, vulnerable? Femininity isn't weakness. Being a woman is being crowned with the glory of imparting a unique beauty to the world. It's a strong kind of beautiful. It's a beautiful that doesn't strive but also doesn't shrink back. It's a beautiful that wells up from a heart enlivened by the light of life. It's Cinderella- the kind heart behind the transformed beauty that captures the heart of the prince. I've often winced at my daughter's fascination with all things princess, but I think along the way, I've learned- maybe through her- that our royal position in the Kingdom of God is a reality I've overlooked. We are made beautiful and we have captivated the prince's heart as He has redeemed us from our rags and tatters. Beauty for our ashes. Cinderella's story is our own.

And it's not that we shouldn't look our best. We need not give up our manicures and our earrings and our favorite pair of shoes, but we should use them to honor God instead of ourselves. Our bodies are not to be worshipped and they are not to be neglected (props, Andy). They are holy vessels of the Lord and should be treated as such.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." I Corinthians 6:19-20

The fact is that we are the Lord's and we all possess beauty. All of us. We are created in His image. And even though, because of sin, we are haunted with death, dysfunction, disappointment, and disease- our outward beauty seeming to waste away with each passing year- even though we all grow old, as believers in theOne who imparts resurrected life, our true beauty will be revealed one Day. For real.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1

"It is the same way for the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies, which die and decay, will be different when they are resurrected, for they will never die. Our bodies now disappoint us, but when they are raised, they will be full of glory. They are weak now, but when they are raised, they will be full of power." I Corinthians 15:42-43

"It's an inside outside upside down Kingdom, where you lose to gain, where you die to live." Misty Edwards

3. Recognizing the culture of death that daily bombards us with its lies

It's the culture that tells us that we're only beautiful if we are a certain height, with a certain figure, and a certain look or even a certain talent that makes us valuable or beautiful at all. Who says we're not idol worshippers? Our culture uses and exploits women. It prostitutes beauty and strips women of all dignity and worth. It's why we have a billion dollar pornography industry plaguing our nation, leaving all kinds of death and destruction and every sort of evil in its wake. I can only imagine how it affects the heart of God.

Looking to the culture or the world to define your worth as a woman will leave you wanting at best and horribly destitute at worst. The enemy hurls all kinds of lies to pierce our hearts and preys upon us in our most vulnerable years, distracting us, getting us to look to in all the wrong places for validation and love.

We must look to Jesus to dispel the lies. To find our identity. To find the truth that sets us free. And the truth is...

The King is enthralled by your beauty. The King is enthralled by my beauty. (Psalm 45:11)

His banner over me is love. (Song of Songs 2:4) To Him, I am lovely. I have stolen His heart with one glance of my eyes. (Song of Songs 4:9)

On the journey to discovering His beauty and the beauty that is bestowed through Him, blessings will flow. They already have started to melt my heart and minister to the wounded places deepest in my soul.

As I've asked Him how He feels about me, what He thinks about me, He directed me to my name. What He ordained my name to be through the unction of my parents.

I always knew my first name was a royal Ethiopian name meaning "queen." It astounded me to connect that to the place that He has for me in His Kingdom. And I was further astounded when I looked up the meaning of my middle name.

Its meaning? "Lovely or worthy of love."

"No way!" My heart cried. "A lovely queen? For real?"

"Way." He says. He ordained it.

Lord, help me to believe that I am lovely to you and that you are enthralled by my beauty. Help me to live into that truth and to declare it over all who are yours.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Things that fly and are way up high

We began our adventures yesterday at the Panhandle Butterfly House. Quite a hit with my little girl. And with me. The laminated sheets of all the species of butterflies present made it for quite the educationally scientific experience. We loved it.

But don't tell the hostess how to pronounce "New Orleans." ;)

Kite flying was up next.

The Cinderella kite (the speck in the sky) flew effortlessly.

The turtle kite was a little tougher- it wanted to loop around the sky like a Tilt-a-Wirl on crack.

But it ended well with Z man high atop Pop Pop's shoulders. Nothin but grins and giggles to end a happy day.