there is no flaw in you

July 27, 2014

Today is one of those days. Those low self-esteem kind of days where all you want to do is hide your body and pretend like certain parts of your body don't exist. I used to get this way regularly. You know, like, daily. If not hourly. I have parts of my body I hate. I do! I hate my arms, stomach, and boobs. And I often compare them to others girls who have the same issues or have it better than myself. 

I wish my stomach was flatter.

I wish my arms were smaller

I wish wish my boobs were bigger.

But I can't have those. And dwelling on them only makes me depressed; it does nothing to make those issues that are "in my head" better than they already are. I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday and did what I haven't done in ages-I did a body check. For those of you who do not know what that is, it is a mindless anxiety trait-usually used by those with eating disorders to check their body for "normalcy"-in that case, to check for fat, make sure they're not gaining weight. 

I usually body check periodically. And to be honest, when I can't feel ribs or my collar bone, I automatically go into a disordered mode of thinking. "Well, if I can't feel bone, I must be fat!" Regardless if it's actually fat or muscle. And either a diet or disordered way of eating ensues. 

However, this morning, as I was reading my BIBLE, I ran across-as I normally do-a verse that struck a cord with me-Song of Solomon 4:7

You are altogether beautiful, my love;    there is no flaw in you. 

As earthly women, we are able to find flaws in anything-especially our own bodies. Not to mention in other women, too. But this verse, as if God was speaking directly to me, states that there is NO FLAW in me. That I was made in the image of Christ and that if He made me in His image, then I must be as flawless as the Bible states. Maybe not in my eyes, but in God's eyes I am!

a love of my own

July 26, 2014

Starbucks is my favorite place to go. That and the Wild Life viewing area in my home town. Right now I am actually at Starbucks editing and uploading photos of my Aunts wedding that happened back in March of this year. 
Yeah. I am a slacker. I am almost done, but not soon enough. Apparently I didn't realize just how time consuming my job would be where I work, and just how time consuming editing and uploading photos would be! It's actually a pain. 
Trying to do both simultaneously, while sleep deprived and on way too much caffeine. But it is finished. Yippee!! I am done and never again have to mess with editing wedding photos. 
Never again, I think, will I shoot another wedding. Nope. Ha!

>>><<< I was making my way to Starbucks I ran across a song on the radio-Fall Apart by Josh Wilson. It struck a cord with me, in the way only some songs do.

Cause my whole world is caving in 
But I feel You now more than I did then 
How can I come to the end of me 
And somehow still have all I need
God, I want to now You more 
Maybe this is how it starts 
I find You when I fall apart 
The lyrics spoke to me. (Funny thing how God can use a song to get through to some people. He is always doing that with me!). But, the lyrics made a huge impact on my heart today. 

I have been struggling, as many of you know, with the fact that I am single. I have felt-for a long time-that God used my singleness as a way to poke fun at me, to torment me. Because when I wanted a relationship he denied me that, and when I wasn't looking He gave me what I wanted but quickly took it away. How frustrating is that! 

While I talk a lot about seeking God first, yada-yada, I think Josh Wilson says it best in his song.

I will find You when I fall apart

I guess I skipped this part when I was battling an eating disorder. I mean, maybe I didn't notice this fact as plainly as I do now. I struggled then with a matter of the heart, but now I struggle again, but more fiercely than ever before. The eating disorder has been squelched; however, wanting a relationship can become just as much of an obsession. It did. It was. 

Until I realized this, deleted my online dating profiles, and took a step back, I didn't understand this. That when I fall apart, fall down, give up, cry out-I will always find God right there. 

He knows I want a relationship. But he also knows that it is eating me up inside-the desire is come to an unhealthy obsession. A sort of pity-party. He knows my heart. And I have to admit that my heart, before now, wasn't His. But it belonged to this fictional idea of the perfect man. 

I found God when I dropped to my knees and sought His love and grace. I see the error of my ways. My heart was invested in the wrong thing, and for that I am regretful. I spent several years chasing this ideal image of the perfect man, but in reality I didn't have to go looking very far to find HIM.

The perfect guy was right in front of me, but in a different form. Not as a visible man, but as a Holy Father. He knows my desires. We've had this talk. I made sure! Ha! But, seriously, our hearts should belong to the Father before they belong to man. It's in Him that we can trust our hearts 100%-knowing He will, in time, give over our hearts to a man deserving of our captivating beauty. 

So, until that time comes. I am just going to enjoy being single. Invest my heart and time into God's word and people. This is where I pray I find my heart's desire-to love people...and maybe even in return find a love of my own. 

its a relief

July 25, 2014

It is finally the weekend! Huzzah!
This week has been a toughie. I cannot begin to describe to you just how serious my love affair with Starbucks has become. Talk about love! Serious devotion. Ha!

Speaking of love...that may be the only thing loyal to me, other than my family and God. Today I formally deleted my online dating profiles. For good. Whoa. That was a huge step in faith for me-to let Christ lead my love life. 

I have had those profiles since 2012. It has been a huge part of my life for-what- three years?! Dang. That is really how long I have denied God the ability to rule my love life-how long I have ignored His love by searching for it from man, instead of the one who created it. 

I men, when I think about it, my life is to be a love song for my savior-not for man. My devotion should be for my savior, my heart should be for Him. I have searched so long for love that I have almost forgotten what love really looks like because, well, I have pushed all aspects of love-Godly love-away to pursue a love that might have potential while, really, it is just superficial. 

True love is something else entirely. And Godly love, well, is beyond me! 

I deleted those online dating profiles for many reasons. But my main reason was the fact that it had become an obsession. It was an addiction-browsing the store of online profiles of manly men. It was a thriller that added some fun to my seemingly dull life. It was a distraction, too. And I honestly think that Satin used that to his advantage-to make me take my eyes off of God. He used that hope of finding the one to his advantage And I bought the lie. 

For three years I waited. Dated. Was disappointed and bored with all the guys that failed to meet my expectations and standards. Soon I became disheartened, but obsessively compulsive in my search. 

I have only recently realized this, because of how anxious and weary of men I had become. God was sending me a clear message-"You won't find him here."

I began to pray.

I began to think-ponder.

Then I finally just said "enough". Clicked delete and sighed. It was over. I had given up. Given up control. Gave it up to God. I prayed for patience, faith, hope, guidance. One thing that I believe is super important to realize if you're doing online dating is that you lose yourself. I did. I had to reclaim myself and my dignity and let go. God's love surpasses online love and fantasy.  

If I have learned anything from this experience, it is that God rules your love life. You cannot make love appear out of thin air and you certainly cannot force yourself to like someone, visa-versa. advice is give up. I am serious. Give up. Stop looking. Start living. It's quite a relief!

you must first accept

July 23, 2014

I rarely know what to expect out of God. Actually I never know what to expect. Other than knowing that He has a future planned for me that is greater than I can even imagine. Most of the time I am over being ordinary. Of waiting for greater. 

I have been made for greater, this I know. But as a female I often feel lacking, or I feel unsure of myself. And a lot of the time it's because I am afraid to offer my beauty to the world. Because-what if my beauty is not accepted?

When women unveil their beauty, I see it as if they are offering the world more than just a pretty face, but they are offering their hearts, their presence. 

"Beauty overwhelms us, Enchants us, fascinates us, and Calls us"-FR. Andrew Greeley
I believe that the heart of a woman-including her presence-is such a huge statement piece. It is bold, but subtle. Strong, yet delicate. If only the world knew that. Could see that. 

As the thunder culminates in the distance, I think about all the times that I felt that my beauty wasn't enough. It used to shatter my soul, the memories of such times. Even to this day things happen that have me doubting whether my beauty is sufficient. (I don't mean beauty as in an outward beauty. But an inward beauty- which I believe does affect how you view your outward beauty). 

But now...I feel it has only served to show me that not everyone can see beauty-that some have hardened their hearts to it, or have never known it. But deeply, they do...

And I have had to accept that and learn that I need to be the primary person who accepts my beauty as it is, rather than turn to others for approval and acceptance because, while offering beauty can feel risky, it should be known that before others will accept you, you must first realize that God accepts your beauty for what it truly is; and secondly-you must accept it yourself. 

Audrey || 2014 || Senior

July 13, 2014

I have known Audrey since we were little. She has amazing athletic abilities and a heart for God. Her mother and my mom used to belong to the same home school group in the small town we lived in. We were both a lot younger then, but I remember her and her family being called to the Mission field and becoming Missionaries in Turkey. To be able to do her Senior photos warmed my heart! To be able to capture her in a way that showcased her natural beauty was truly a blessing!

Be a girl with a mind, a woman with attitude, and a lady with class.

Women of the Bible: Hannah

I have been busy lately. Now, granted, I have taken the summer off from schooling just so I could work full-time, but aside from working 40hr weeks at a Preschool, I have crocheted many a beanie and scarf set, hung out with friends, edited some photography of mine that I took at my Aunt's wedding, and have recently joined a single women's Bible study through my church. 
My latest Beanie/Slouchy and scarf set. All hand Crocheted by me!
A precious preview of my Aunt's wedding photos! Totes Presh!

And with that Bible study there has been a lot of study! This week, on Thursday, the single women and myself are going over Hannah, a feminine character of the Bible. The mother of Samuel.  

What is the story that Hannah can tell us? What are the unique qualities of this Biblical woman that can offer encouragement to all the single ladies?!

Hmm...good question. 

I am a single lady. I have been in relationships only two times in my whole existence, which has been bitter sweet, to be honest. My first relationship left a sweet taste in my mouth for being bound to someone through love. It made me feel connected, whole, Loved. But at the same time, I had ousted God and was striving to meet the needs of my "Adam", my modern day man, and not the needs of my spiritual connection with Christ. 

So needless to say, I am single. It's a pill that's hard to swallow. I am 21. So I have a ways to go! I am still in school. Have a great job. Go to church. What more could a single girl who has the world at her feet want?! Um...oh, I don't know! Let me

I used to think "yeah, I can get my love from God. But I cannot see him, touch him, feel him." I wanted to be loved so badly that I was willing to stay in a relationship for a year that was unhealthy and emotionally/sexually abusive. Needless-to-say, I have maintained my virginity, but not my innocence. 

As I look back, though, I realize something. I have never been content being in a relationship. Each time I was disappointed. And as you well know, I have only been in a relationship twice! So that's a huge deal. Why? Because I wasn't content with being single. How could I, someone who wasn't content with being single, expect to be content in a relationship? Simple. I couldn't. Why? Because in both situations God was not the focus. He wasn't the center.

So, as I read Hannah's story, I was struck by how God used one woman's human desires for His greater good-to glorify Himself! Now, those questions (above) made me really think seriously about my situation. My life is barren right now-in relational terms. I have human desires to find love and be with someone. But that day is far off in the vast future. So until that day comes, I consider the present time that I am in as a time of relational barrenness. I am empty. I am weak.

What does Hannah have to offer the single ladies of the world in regards to becoming happier women who are content with their current barren situation?

First off, a little background:
1) Hannah was the favorite wife of Elkanah
2) She was barren-Childless
3) Pininna-Elkanah's second wife-gave Hannah grief about her "closed womb" (1 Samuel 1:5).

So...what advice does Hannah-a married woman-have to offer single ladies? Perhaps, rather, we should ask-what hope does she offer? 

In Hannah's case, she was barren. Sounds a little redundant saying this again and again, but this is an essential part of the story. She could not have any children. This caused her much grief. And in that state she cried out to God to give her a son, and in return she would give her son up to God in dedication as a Nazirite (a man set apart to severe God). As the story goes (1 Samuel 1-2), God blesses Hannah with the birth of a son, in which Hannah eventually gives to the Lord in service. 

As I read Hannah's story, I wonder why it is so essential to the story of Samuel. What importance does it have? Looking closer into the story of Hannah, my heart is warmed to see that God uses her situation to glorify Himself through her grief. Through her weakness, through her faith and trust, through her tears...a glorious story of a woman's heart brings to pass a new season of Israel's history. 

We learn from Hannah's story about a God that does great things for those who are weak:
1) He is the One who helps the weak.
2) He hears and rescues those like Hannah.
3) Our Strength comes from God, not self.
4) He has the ability to make those who are weak strong.

Now we're wanting to know what HOPE Hannah can offer us who are single! Hold on! There's more to the story than just Hannah. In this story we also get a glimpse of the heart of God:
1) He doesn't despise human desire.
2) He comforts.
3) He hears our cries.
4) He doesn't chastise us for being discontent. He understands. (1 Timothy 6:6).
5) He knows that "a hope deferred makes the heart sick(Proverbs 13:12).
6) He invites us to bring our requests to Him (Philippians 4:6).

Hannah's story teaches us single women that God can, indeed, use our human desires and weaknesses to accomplish great things. Hannah's desire was to have a baby, even if it meant giving him up to God. What Hannah's message is about is "have hope". There is hope that one day you will be a wife. It's a good desire. 

But we need to have an obedient heart of faith and trust in God for all things regardless of the outcome. He answers prayers on His own time-not ours! And he uses out weakness to embolden us to a greater purpose. 

The hope that I think Hannah has to offer us is this:
 It is in our barren time of life-in our case singleness-that God can use our desires and weakness to glorify Him, to strengthen us-our faith! Hannah tells a story of hope, faith, and the desire of a woman's heart. God did not ignore her. He will not ignore us! He's waiting on us to accept our position as single women, and allow Him to use our barren lives as a strength. He will give us the desires of our hearts in due time. But until then, we need to be diligent in prayer, trust wholeheartedly, and have faith that all things work to Glorify God!!

ezer kenegdo

July 6, 2014

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you...
Blessed are you, O Israel! 
Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? 
He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword".
-Deuteronomy 33:26, 29

I have read this verse many a time, but never cared to "understand" it until if was put into a perspective pertaining to the fact that women, too, are much like that of the way God was to Israel-a helper. God helped Israel out of many struggles and hardships along the way...

And I believe-or, at least see now-that a woman's role is perhaps very much similar. What I mean here is that  women are the "help meet" in relationships. Much like God was the help meet to Israel in Deuteronomy 33. Women are the helpers. what does that mean? 

The way I see it is this: God created all women to play an irreplaceable role in a captivating life. We''re the crescendo-His final masterpiece! Whoa. What a statement. When I first heard that women were created to be the "help meet" I was kind of insulted. I thought it was a means of lowering a woman's worth. 

But as I dug deeper into the phrase I found the words ezer kenegdo. Genesis  2:18 has it mentioned: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I shall make him a [ezer kenegdo]". Translated ezer kendego means "sustainer beside him". 

I read that and am in awe. Why? Because there's more to being a woman than what I had thought. We're not wimpy, boring, or flat. While we're not literally saving lives like Christ, we are sustaining life, bearing life, nurturing life. 

We are a huge part of God's creation and it begins and ends with us. The final masterpiece! There's more to the power of being a woman than I thought. Yes! More than just boobs, a booty, and the ability to make babies and have sex. Sure, we're good at a lot of things. But I am inspired to know that I have a purposeful life-that I have been put on here to give and preserve life!

What an amazing role we play, ladies! 

We are sustainers, life-givers and life-preservers. Dang! No wonder God saw fit to make man a woman. He wouldn't have survived without us! Let alone populated the earth without us. Ha! I love, also, how our roles in life go beyond giving and preserving life! Seriously, women are more than just a rib from a man. We're the feminine side of a BIG God. Caring. Beautiful. Adventurous. Inspiring. Creative. Loving. Tender. Warriors. 

We have a beauty to unveil that is-essential to God. It's the essence of God! Beauty does a whole heck of a lot of things (here's a list):

i t . s p e a k s
Beauty is there. It surrounds us whether we choose to notice it or not. Take it or leave it, beauty speaks to us in powerful ways. When I think of how beauty speaks, I always think of my mommy. Looking at her beautiful face speaks to me in a way that is calming and reassuring..."all shall be well" her beauty says. "Do not worry. Our God is bigger than your troubles. He shall lift you up when life tears you down. Stay strong. I love you". The beauty of a woman also speaks of peace. Of rest.

i t . i n v i t e s
It invites you to come more deeply into it. (Think of a piece of your favorite does it make you feel? Do you normally listen to it on repeat?) I think an inviting woman is like a piece of music. She doesn't necessarily have to be a model to be inviting. Her heart (the melody of the music) is what captivates the listener or person. I see my Aunt Shae as a picture of an inviting woman. She is full of grace, acceptance and genuine love. She's always there when I need her-even in the middle of the night. She invites with her heart, as well as her beauty. Which is why she is such a captivating woman in my book. 

i t . n o u r i s h e s 
Beauty is the type of food our soul craves. Beauty is sustaining. Literally! When I think of beauty as nourishing I honestly think of a woman breastfeeding. She is nourishing her baby with a part of her created to sustain life. 

i t . c o m f o r t s
When I think of beauty as comforting, I think of those who mourn. There are no words available in the time of mourning over a loved one to ease the pain. But helps. I always wondered why there are so many flowers at funerals. They're tidbits of beauty that flourish and inspire courage to those grieving. Like I said before...sometimes beauty speaks more that actually words. Beauty comforts.

i t . t r a n s c e n d s
Beauty is eternal. Long-lasting. When I think of beauty as "transcending", I turn to nature. God has created a beautiful land for us to admire. And I think it's truly something that hits the hearts of everyone. The magic of beauty is beyond our knowledge. There is no limit to what beauty can do!

All these things are especially true about a woman, which is why I love the fact that I am given the gift of womanhood. All of these things transpire within me, as they do you! I used to think being a female was a curse. That I would be better off as a man. But after delving into the Word and finding these facts out for myself, I am truly blessed to be a woman-especially a woman of God! I was put on this earth to be a help meet, and a beauty that not only helps her man, but nourishes, sustains, comforts, transcends, and speaks truth!