(Still) Beautiful...

I had been reading some of my original blog posts and found this gem from 2007. Love it!

Last night I wasn’t feeling well. In fact, our whole family is fighting off a “bug.” So, with homework finished early and supper done, we left the dishes in the sink and all got under some blankets to “snuggle buggle” and watch a movie. Lying there next to Ashley, my precious 8yr old, she looked up at me and said, “You are so beautiful, Mama.” She outlined my features and continued, “More beautiful than Miley (aka “Hannaha Montana”) or Mary Jane (Parker from Spiderman).” Now this surprised me, because I had not a stitch of make-up on and my hair was pulled back into a ponytail. (Not exactly “movie star” material!) I hugged her closer and giggled and we continued watching the movie.

But, as I was out walking this morning, God brought back that moment to my memory. What made me so beautiful to my little girl? It wasn’t the make-up or the hair or a gorgeous outfit. One of the verses I purpose in my heart to “live out” is 1Peter 3:3-4. It is my hearts’ cry that “my beauty should not come from outward adornment….Instead 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.” Gentle….a fruit of the spirit. How I long that I am gentle. That my talk is gentle (a gentle answer turns away wrath). Other words for gentle are calm, kind, and tender. I always want to be tender to my family. And, “quiet.” I look at quiet as resting in God, trusting Him. A quiet spirit…….a humble spirit…..

How I long to reflect these things. But, I feared that I had “exploded” with my children too many times for them to see me as gentle. I feared that I had said too many unkind words to be this gentle spirit. I have nagged too much… Complained too often… I feared that I had “exasperated” (Ephesians 6:4) my children too many times to be “beautiful” in God’s sight and their sight. I have a vision of what I so long to be……

But, through the sweet, gentle, kind words of my little girl, God reminded me that I am indeed beautiful in His sight. And, what a joy to a mother’s heart that her daughter would look past the physical beauty that the world espouses, traces the features of mama’s face, and calls her “beautiful.”

Father, may this be a gentle reminder to all of us that true beauty comes from a spirit who loves, follows, and trusts You. There is nothing more beautiful than a reflection of Your glorious Light. Help us, as women, Lord, to be secure and comfortable in who You have created us to be. Father, we praise You and love You. Glory to God in the highest! In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Wilderness Hikes

During my time in Tuscan, I had a couple of days on my own while Brian worked. There was an amazing hiking trail adjacent to our hotel and Brian and I had hiked part of it together. On my first free day, a friend from the conference and I ventured out on the trail. I had been on it once already and was able to lead us further than where I had been. On my second free day, God called me out into this wilderness trail to be alone with Him. Now, I was a little more than nervous doing this, especially since I had seen a (dead) rattlesnake the day before when I was out walking. I knew the trail was pretty challenging and a bit treacherous at times with streams to ford, rocks to climb, and plenty of wildlife to be wary of. But, if God was calling me out, I knew He would protect me.

It didn't take long for me to understand that I was going to have to face my fears. The biggest fear for me was that of the unknown. I literally trembled as I had to walk through jungles of overgrown brush or when the the trail narrowed and I had to creep closely to the canyon walls. I was petrified that something hidden would come out and hurt me.

Being alone was so much harder than with a hiking buddy. Every little noise put me on edge and I had to continue to call out to God and depend on Him. Over and over I asked Him to give me courage to continue. God continued to push me farther, to challenge myself to do more than what I thought I could. He encouraged me over and over to face my fears and keep going. When I sat down on a boulder near a stream, I soaked in His sunshine, His beauty, His peace....A beautiful butterfly was my constant companion. I continued to feel stronger and the more I pushed in, I felt more brave.

During life, God calls into the wilderness at times. He pushes us deeper...further. He asks us to face our fears and join Him near the streams for refreshment. He teaches us lessons that can only be learned in the wilderness.

During my experience, He revealed things in my heart that need to change. He drew me closer still to Him. He proved Himself a trustworthy guide.

Some lessons I learned were that shortcuts, although they may appear to be shorter can be dangerous. The trail may take longer, but it is the safe path.

I met several other hikers along the way. Most were small groups, but some were alone like me. Now, I am often a bit wary of strangers when I am alone and in an isolated place, but I found a co artery and unity with my fellow travelers. We were all facing these same struggles....the same streams to ford, boulders to climb, narrow trails to navigate. We ask one another what the trail was like ahead and how far we had gotten. We had the same struggles, but also the same desire and goal to reach the maiden pools. In life, we need a community of others to encourage each other.

Going up the trail can be physically demanding, climbing up rocks and canyons. But, coming down isn't always "easier". The momentum can bring you down too quickly. I had to use muscles and energy to slow myself at times. Jumping down can be more perilous than hoisting myself up.

I am thankful for my wilderness time. I felt so accomplished and victorious when I finished! God showed me that I am much more brave than I had imagined. He helped me face my fears. My favorite time is still sitting near the quiet stream, soaking Him in and allowing Him to fill me with His Presence.  I encourage you to take some time alone with Him in the wilderness.

Thank you Lord for your love. Thank you Lord that you encourage us to spend time with you alone in the wilderness and that you challenge us to face our fears. Thank you for providing community to encourage us. Thank you for quiet rests. I love You Lord. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.