Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Worth More

In a culture with high expectations that we all too often fall short of, it can be easy to doubt your value. The unrealistic ideal of perfection is displayed, demanded, and striven for at almost any cost. People are destroying themselves for the sake of being called beautiful by a world that really doesn’t care.
I don’t know about you, but I find that incredibly sad.
The pressure is everywhere. Be thinner, girl; diet, diet, diet. Shed those pounds, get rid of that muffin top. Wear tight jeans, show off those legs. Dip your neckline a little lower, show more skin; guys only want sexy. Paint yourself with makeup; do absolutely anything and everything you can to be beautiful
Girls aren’t the only ones under pressure. Society isn’t too kind to guys either. Get a job, get a car, get a girl, workout, work harder; go to college and make something of yourself.
In today's culture, all that seems to matter is looking good and living good. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with wanting a good body and a good career. These are worthwhile things to pursue. But when it becomes an obsession - when these things begin to define your worth and who you are - that's a problem.
I know what it’s like to feel worthless; I’ve been there. And no matter how many times my family and friends would tell me that I was beautiful, talented, worthwhile, etc., I never felt it. All I felt was ugly, empty, and broken.
But there was one thing that got through to me. One simple, amazing truth that convinced me of my worth. It was this:
I was crafted by the hand of God, in His image, for His purpose.
And that makes me infinitely valuable.
You don’t need anyone or anything to define your worth aside from God.
The God of the universe took the time to make you with His own hands. What’s more, He died so that you could live with Him in paradise for all eternity. What more do you need?
You don’t need to submit to the world’s image to be beautiful.
You were created in the image of the almighty God; how can you be anything less than gorgeous? Just be who you are. It truly is the heart of a person that makes them beautiful.
You don’t need to stress about finding your ‘purpose’.
God doesn’t make mistakes. He chose to make you, to write you into His story, and He had a reason for doing so. Even if you don’t know what your purpose is yet, never doubt His plan for your life. You were made for a purpose, and you won’t die until you complete the very thing He made you to do.

So what if you have a muffin-top? That doesn’t make you any less beautiful.
So what if you don’t have well-defined abs? Strength of heart is so much more admirable.
So what if you can’t afford college? You don’t need a degree to make a difference.
Your worth is not in your appearance. Your worth is not in your personality, talents, beliefs, or anything else.
Your worth is in the very fact that you exist, because you were made and loved by God.
Don’t fall prey to the lies that society is trying to feed you. You are beautiful – no matter your body type, your laugh, your unique giftings, or any of the other things that make up who you are. God created you for a purpose, and He loves you desperately.

You are worth so much more than the world’s standard of beauty. Never forget that. <3


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hello Autumn

         It's finally Autumn!!
        Autumn is my favorite season. It's not too hot (summer), not too cold (winter), not too wet (spring). It's the perfect balance of everything - not to mention insanely beautiful. There is something positively intoxicating about the crisp air, the turning of the leaves, the sense of peace that settles over everything. There's nothing else like it in the world.
       Sweaters, hot apple cider, crisp mornings, pumpkin bread, warm coffee, boots, foggy mornings, brisk evenings, vibrant leaves, walks through the woods, rainy days, peaceful silence, thick carpets of leaves,

        These are the things I love about Autumn. <3


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happy Father's Day

        You probably just glanced down at the right-hand corner of your computer screen to confirm your suspicions and shook your head, muttering, "This post is three months late. Father's Day was back in June."
        Well, you're right. Father's Day does take place in June. But I'm talking about a different kind of holiday.
        During the sermon at church today, the elder who was preaching compared the Sabbath to Father's Day.
        Father's Day is a day set aside to honor our father's and all that they do for us. It's not that we don't talk to / fellowship with / thank and honor our father's for the other 364 days of the year; but the third Sunday in June is dedicated to just that.
       In the same way, Sunday is like a weekly Father's Day to God. Yes, we talk (pray), fellowship (read), and thank and honor (worship) the other six days of the week, but Sunday is a particular day that is set aside for fellowship with our Savior.
        I don't know about you, but that analogy really clicked with me.
       Sunday isn't about singing praise songs, listening to a sermon, and spending time with the body of Christ. These are all great - and important - things to do, but Sunday is really about you and God. It's about showing your love and affection by spending quality time with Him and honoring all that He has done for you.
        So get off your computer, phone, tablet, or whatever you're using to read this, and go spend time with your Father. This is His day.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gleanings 2014

          Hello again! I just got back from an amazing week in California, processing peaches and dumping hundreds (okay, thousands) of bags of noodles and mashed potato mix into bins.
          It was an amazing, beautiful, difficult week.
          My first year of Gleanings was incredibly fun. We worked, we played, we worshiped; joy was in the air you breathed. I guess I was expecting this year to be the same.
          This year, Gleanings was rough - in the challenging kind of way. It was like one of those sermons in which every single word the pastor says was exactly meant for you - except this 'sermon' spread out over a week. Morning and evening, every day, there was something new to encourage and challenge me. It was somewhat exhausting, albeit exciting.
          It started on Monday evening when one of the staff members, Brian, shared his testimony of coming to Christ after spending 17 years in prison (obviously there was a lot more to his story than that, but I'm not going to expound on it here). On Tuesday morning, one of the young men on summer staff got and up and shared his testimony. It started with the seemingly classic "born and raised in a Christian family" line, and ended with him seriously contemplating suicide. It was at his lowest that he found God, and now, two years later, he is doing immensely better.
          His encouragement to us was to take off our masks; to share our testimony in its entirety. To be open and honest and raw about the demons we face and the battles we fight.
          Daniel's testimony had a domino effect on the rest of the week.
          At every chapel gathering, at least one person shared their testimony at the open mic. And it was - well, shocking. You look at all these beautiful, put-together people - many of whom you've known for years - and you would never guess what they struggle with. Suicide, pornography, self-harm, unworthiness - just to name a few.
          You might think that such a confession would put the sharer in a negative light. But there is something incredibly beautiful about the strength it takes to share something so personal. All I felt was admiration.
         On Thursday, I felt a strong prompting to share. Which kind of freaked me out to be honest, because I've never really felt lead to share before - especially not something this personal. I fretted about it all day, trying to script out what I wanted to say in my mind. Evening chapel came, but they didn't give the little "if you have anything to share, please come up" message at the beginning. Which meant that if I was going to share, I would have to march up to the front between songs, uninvited. Lovely.
         So I decided to give God a contingency. I told Him that if someone got up and shared, I would follow them.
        At the end of the song, Deanna went up.
        While you shouldn't need to strike a bargain with God to obey His voice, it was reassuring to know that He wanted me to do this. Deanna sat down, and I made my way to the front, Bible in hand. And I told them.
        I told them that I had been depressed. I shared some of my struggles and the oppressive weight of my guilt. I read a passage from 1 Peter that I had read in my devotions that morning. Then I sat down.
        I don't know if my words made a difference. I don't know if anyone was blessed by them. But there was a relief knowing that I didn't have to hide anymore. They might judge me, they might not understand, but at least they knew.
         It can be hard - terrifying - to take off the mask. To expose yourself to the often-judgmental eyes of the world. But your testimony could be exactly what someone needs to hear - even if it's just the knowledge that they're not alone. We were meant to bear one another's burdens, not struggle through life on our own meager strength.

         There is so much more I could say, so many more things I learned, but I'll save it for future posts. Suffice it to say, I had a wonderful, blessed week. We did good work, we had good fun, and we made good memories. I am so thankful for God's goodness in providing for me to go.
         Remember that everyone has a past. Everyone has a story. And no matter how put-together they may seem, they may very well be breaking apart on the inside. Let us love one another as God has loved us.