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Season of Romance

February 15, 2017

Hey Ladies! Check out this post by Asia Major-Waithe who was willing to share her story about God drawing her into Him in a deeper way as her Bridegroom and Husband. Valentine’s Day might be over, but our relationship with God can continually grow deep, even as single ladies!

By: Asia Major-Waithe

It can definitely be difficult to be single these days… sometimes it feels like you are the only one out of your friends, especially for me as most of my friends are married now. There are times where I really struggle with my singleness, and the enemy makes me question if there is something wrong with me.

The Truth is that Jesus is my husband and the lover of my soul. And to the Church, He is our bridegroom. Sometimes that revelation doesn’t necessarily bring the comfort needed- but it is true, and as believers we need to stake our lives on what is true rather than what we feel, think, or what Satan tries to throw at us.

I have been in a season where I’ve heard God say multiple times that He is the only thing that will truly satisfy my heart (Psalm 63:5, John 4:13). When you look up the definition of satisfy it literally means to fulfill a desire or need. It is ingrained in our DNA to be with God… It’s a deep soul thirst, and He truly is the one that can make things complete. I see shadows of this when I listen to moving music, see beautiful art, or stand in the midst of the majesty of creation. These aspects of life stir deep within me, but only point to the One that created it.

The Creator designed us to be with Him so intimately, that when we step into that place of intimacy…nothing else can touch it. Our world puts such a high value on the physical world of what is seen and felt like art, music, or nature- but as believers we need to live in what is unseen and known pointing back to Him. As you come to know this Holy Being that came and died for you, please consider the amazing romance He offers to you.

And He is the most Romantic… He left everything He had in Heaven, majesty and all. He came to a world that scorned and mocked Him. What bigger way is there to show His love? The world still turned its back and spit in His face- more broken than it had ever been… and yet the choice of Jesus was to Come, Teach, Serve, Love and Die all because He knew He needed to fulfill His greater purpose: to reconcile the ones He loved most to the Father, so that they would not live in forever brokenness and despair, but in Glory and Restoration.

That, my friend, is something beautiful and worth fighting for!

This last season I repented for being a “fickle wife.” Jesus is so tender and sweet, as He brings the hard things up not to hurt us but to heal us (Hosea 6:1). And in this season, He showed me my weakness, my sin, and my shame. He showed me when things got hard I would run away rather than toward Him. And he pointed me to a book of the Bible where this idea of running from my Bridegroom is so clearly illustrated.

The book of Hosea has spoken to me in many seasons of life, this last one I had the realization that I am Gomer, a prostitute taken in by her husband but left him to go back to her lovers, but her husband found her in the desert and wooed her back to himself there.

After reading Hosea, I realized that I am the one that gives herself to other lovers, other masters, other people. And He so lovingly and graciously draws us back to Himself by sometimes putting us in positions that are hard. He fences us in. He brings us into the wilderness where all we have is Him. (Hosea 2: 14) It’s in the lonely, tough times when you have to choose what you believe.

I thought my other ‘lovers’ (exercise and relationships) would save me, but the truth is those things only provided momentary comfort and were ultimately distractions from the greatest romance of all.

Ladies, my prayer for you is to seek the One whose hand stretched beyond the cross and into your life to be with you. Solely because He loves you. I pray that you come to know this Lover of your soul, this Bridegroom, this Husband of yours in a more real way than you ever could before. I pray that His pursuit makes your heart beat faster. And that His delight in you makes you overwhelmingly delight in Him. I hope you turn to Jesus when you are in the desert because He will sustain and romance you in a way that no man ever can.

Photo Cred: Rachel Crowe

 

Asia Major-Waithe grew up in Elmont, NY. She’s been an athlete her whole life and now trains other athletes. She loves Jesus and came to know him during her college years in 2010.

 

Peace in the Storm

December 23, 2016
By: Kendra McClelland
Picture yourself getting ready for a formal event with all your best girl friends. You gather hours before you need to leave to allow for spontaneous dance parties, light snacking, and welcomed distractions. Once you’re ready to go, you step outside, and there’s violent gusts of wind tossing your hair like crashing waves. Suddenly, your perfectly curled hair looks like a tornado hit, and the delightful bliss cultivated for the past three hours turns into frustration, ironic laughter, and possibly a couple of tears.
Such is life, ladies.
On a spiritual level, the same circumstance occurs. Morning devotions, daily prayer, Bible study, church, and occasional retreats help cultivate a healthy relationship with Jesus. However, we live in an imperfect world that doesn’t block the gusts of wind from steering us off course.
Sometimes it feels like right when I find peace, chaos strikes all around me. At first, I cling to those spiritual habits resisting the temptation to let stress and anxiety kick in, but when the gusts of wind keep coming with greater force, it’s challenging not to lose my footing.
Before I know it, my prayer life and my trust in Jesus mirror the image of my post-tornado hair. My inner peace has vanished, and everything feels like the end of the world.
It’s overwhelming. I feel small. I feel conquered by the chaos around me. Satan has me right where he wants me.
Isn’t it easy to forget that God shows his greatest power through the weak and vulnerable?
A small stone thrown by a small boy killed the giant, Goliath. A young boy with a couple of fish and loaves of bread entrusted to Jesus fed five thousand people. A young, poor woman gives birth to a baby boy in a feeding trough who is the Savior of the world.
God does miraculous things in the midst of our littleness.
During those chaotic moments, we have a choice. We can choose to make room for Jesus to birth peace in our hearts, or we can join the innkeepers. Do you believe that God will defeat the giants in your life, or do you go into battle alone?
When I make room in my heart for Christ’s peace it doesn’t change the chaos around me, but it preserves my inner peace and prevents me from getting tossed in the wind.
It’s only when I trust in God’s faithfulness and strength that I am able to see the world’s chaos in proper proportion to my God. There’s nothing quite like being immersed in Christ’s peace unafraid of the chaos surrounding you.
I am tired of being an innkeeper.
I’ve learned that the stillness of Christ’s peace is the only tactic to shield chaos. There’s not enough room for chaos and peace, so I am clearing out the stress and anxiety that bully my heart and making room for Jesus.
The decision is yours. Is there room for Jesus’ peace in your heart?

“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

 

Kendra McClelland is the regional chapter director for Santa Clara University’s Wonderfully Made chapter. She works in leadership consulting and is pursuing a Master of Divinity with the dream to serve God’s kingdom in pastoral ministry. Aside from her work and studies, she enjoys traveling internationally, running, and losing track of time over coffee with her dearest friends. There’s also nothing like a good worship jam session to set her heart ablaze, she loves Jesus and she’s not afraid to say it (or sing it)!

 

God Doesn’t Do Flaws

October 14, 2016

By: Alle Roley

I started questioning for the first time why God made me the way He did when I was in sixth grade. I was one of the tallest girls in my class [I haven’t grown an inch since middle school] and I was also what a mild-mannered person might call a lil’ chunky. I didn’t see anything wrong with the way I was until two boys started following me down the hallway every day after lunch and calling me a hippo.

In hindsight, this is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. But ten-year-old Alle really took it to heart. I had of course noticed that I wasn’t as little as lots of the other girls, but the taunts of those two boys caused me to wonder what I needed to do to change that. Because clearly there was something wrong with me; none of the other girls were getting chased and teased.

Fast-forward to high school and I was still the same chubby little sixth grader, except now more…developed. Know what I’m saying? Boys didn’t pass me in the hallway and call me fat anymore; now they made gross- and frankly sometimes very weird- comments about my body. One day, two boys whose names I couldn’t have even told you walked up to me and reported that one of the items on their summer bucket list was to see me topless. I cried in the bathroom after that.

But to be honest, I did little to try to stop this kind of thing from happening. Can you blame me? I figured people were always going to have something to say about my appearance, and I didn’t enjoy overhearing those immature comments in passing but I preferred it to being told outright that I was fat.

At the time, I had no idea how detrimental my acceptance of this was to my identity. I was slowly but surely letting the flawed opinions of others take precedence over what I knew in my heart was the truth. I didn’t stand up for myself, I didn’t stand firm in my beliefs- I just perfected my “boys will be boys” eye roll and cried in the bathroom a lot.

Fast-forward a little further, and during my first two years of college I lost almost 50 pounds. I worked hard, I completely changed my lifestyle, and I was really proud of myself. Every part of me shrunk, and I thought yes! Now people will have nothing left to say about me.

Well, I don’t know if you’re ever gone through any sort of significant physical change, but if you have, you know this- people notice, and they have a whole lot to say about it. And I want to make sure you know how thankful I am that God blessed me with a healthy body capable of making that kind of transformation. But I hated the attention it was bringing me. I wanted my outer appearance to cease being the first thing people noticed about me and I felt this had the complete opposite effect.

I was at war with myself, and that is no good place to be. I fought the battle of self-acceptance from sixth grade until my sophomore year of college. But then do you know what happened? I realized how absolutely ungrateful I was being.

The Lord blessed me with a beautiful, healthy body and all I cared about were the numbers on the scale. God handcrafted me and gave me every ability I need in order to fulfill my purpose in His kingdom, and all I was concerned with was what other people were- or weren’t- saying about me. Does that not sound like the craziest thing? But we all do it more often than we even realize.

This is what I have learned: don’t ever try to tell God that what He has made isn’t good enough. What place do I have, or do you have, as a human being to doubt the Creator of the world’s ability to create? God doesn’t make mistakes; God doesn’t do accidents.

He writes His story of love and grace and redemption on each one of us. For me thus far it has looked like a struggle to accept, a struggle to trust, a struggle to want to fit in with the standards of the world while knowing I was created for something bigger and much better. For you it may look different. But we were all once blank pages in His book and He is molding us, shaping us and writing our unique narratives day by day. What more could you possibly ask for?

Psalm 139:13-16 says “You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Your eyes saw my unformed body and all the days of my life were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

Sometimes we are so concerned with what the world, sixth grade boys, or that super-toned girl with no split ends in our yoga class tell us about ourselves. And we completely overlook the fact that Jesus Christ calls us beautiful and flawless.

Whatever it is about yourself that you just can’t stand, whatever part of you the world tries to twist and corrupt and use for its own crooked purposes, Jesus tells you that that wasn’t a mistake. That’s not a flaw. Because our perfect God doesn’t do flaws and He made you.

That is the truth. And don’t ever forget it.

 

Photo Cred: Henry Be

about the authorI am a 20 year old student at a tiny Christian college in Indiana, but my home is central Illinois. I love Jesus, my puppy, coffee & HGTV in that order. If you ever need to find me, there is a 110% chance I am in the shoe section at Target or taking a nap. My favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 31:25- “she is clothed in strength & dignity; she laughs without fear of the future.”

Identity Theft

October 5, 2016

By: Sara Barratt

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Imagine a world where roses were called skunks and skunks, roses. Can you?

Yeah, neither can I.

While I understand the point William Shakespeare was making in this oft-quoted line from “Romeo and Juliet”, a rose is synonymous for its beauty and sweet smell that we can’t imagine it being called anything else – especially something it’s exact opposite. So, while I shouldn’t contradict our dear Shakespeare, it’s obvious names are important. Incredibly so.

Today, children are given names chosen by their parents because they like the name, or to honor a dear friend or relative. It wasn’t always this way, however. Throughout Scripture, you see children so named because the meaning of their name represented something important to their parents. Sometimes, it meant a blessing. Sometimes, a curse.

Think of the prophet Samuel. His mother, Hannah, desperately cried out to the Lord to give her a son. God answered her prayer, and the name Samuel means “God has heard.”

Or how about Jabez? His mother was in such pain during his birth, that she named him Jabez, meaning “He will cause pain”. He lived with this curse until he cried out to the Lord and asked God to “keep him from evil and from causing pain.”(1 Chronicles 4:10)

And there were those who had their name changed – either by themselves or others.

Like Naomi, whose name means “Pleasant” or “Sweet”. Through this, we receive a glimpse into Naomi’s character and temperament. But when life dealt her one too many hard blows, she said “do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Lord has dealt very bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20) Because of her circumstances she changed her name to one that meant “bitter”.

There are countless others, like Daniel who was given the pagan name Belteshazzar by the Babylonians in an attempt to change his identity from “God is my judge” to “Bel protects his life.” And think of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob… the list could go on and on.

In each of these stories, their name was not merely what they were called— it was their very identity, spirit, character, and legacy. It meant much more to them than what our names mean to us today.

Even so, we are given names that shape who we are, or who we become. Names that can be woven into the very fabric of our identity and worth.

Names like worthless, priceless, failure, smart, stupid, daughter, outcast.

At times these identities are forced upon us by people, but occasionally we can even place them upon ourselves.

No matter whether they come from the mouths of people around us, or from deep inside our hearts, there are really only two voices attempting to label us.

The first is the voice of our enemy. It’s his goal to degrade our blood-bought identity as daughters of the King. He knows if he can steal our identity, he can steal our hearts. If he can convince us we’re not beautiful, priceless daughters, loved beyond measure, then he can make us doubt God’s love. Sweet sisters, do not let the enemy invade your heart and defame your worth. He will taunt and mock. He will roar, whisper or do anything to make you listen to him. Do not listen to his lies. Combat them with truth. He may try to make you feel less than, but you are truly more than enough.

The second voice, and the one that should be the loudest, is that of our Heavenly Father. Everything the enemy says is exactly the opposite of what God says, just as the name Naomi is the exact opposite of Mara. When we accept Christ as our Savior, He gives us a new name. That name is chosen, redeemed, and loved. It’s not up for grabs. It’s not under dispute. It’s hundred percent sure, and right, and ours. Why don’t we claim it? Why do we live each day under attack, when our identity was already bought by the blood of our Savior?

The enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy.

God came to heal, restore, and redeem. He came so you could be His, and died so we would have a new name as His children.

Let’s go back to Daniel. When taken away to Babylon, the Babylonians gave him a new name. But Daniel didn’t accept it. All throughout the book of Daniel, he was always referred to as… Daniel. Even when brought before the rulers of the land, he wasn’t called Belteshazzar, but “Daniel whose name was also Belteshazzar.” He clung to his Hebrew name, because it represented much more than just a name. He didn’t let anyone steal or change it, no matter how hard they tried. No, he was Daniel, and God truly was his judge.

Let it be this way for us. No matter how hard the world may try to change our name – our identity, we need to cling to what God calls us.

No one is authorized to steal the identity of the King’s daughter.

 

Photo Cred: Alex Blăjan

about the authorSara Barratt is a youth leader, piano teacher, avid reader, chocolate lover, and “I Love Lucy” fan.  She strives every day to know her Savior better, and fall more in love with Him. She is excited about teaching today’s youth to passionately serve the Lord, and make a difference in the world around them! Sara lives in the woods of northern Michigan with her family.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

August 1, 2016

By: Tekoa Manning

It finally happened last year– I went to look in the mirror and saw my mother. I thought about how swiftly life can zoom past while we are in the fast lane, but when we move over to the slow lane we get a glimpse of the rearview mirror. Flowers and quilts come to mind. The next time you pass a flower fully in bloom standing in all its glory stop and drink in its perfume and vibrancy because it will fade, but so will we. Each flower from the red velvet petals of the rose to the lemony yellow buttercups will have its moment when it stands proudly at attention, marching out in all its glory.

And so will we.

First things first– the flower. A tiny seed encased in a hard coat gets pushed down into the dark soil. A tiny sprout, a tiny leaf, a tiny stem, and a tiny birth has happened. Picture a baby in the womb coming out of darkness into the marvelous light of life. Our environment can be dangerous. Some seeds need to go through a fire in order to survive. Some seeds need more nutrients and more light. It’s the same way with us.

Plants and flowers are all different and have different needs. Some plants are early bloomers and a small bud of a flower may appear after a few days but other plants can take years to bloom. I started college at thirty. I became comfortable in my skin in my forties but I still have days where I do not like my body image and especially after rounds of medical steroids. Many of us have heard the phrase, “I was a late bloomer.” It’s true. We all know someone in High School that was nerdish who later became gorgeous. Well, on the outside at least. The flower buds. It has already formed completely but it lays tightly closed up and protected until that moment when the flower opens up and presents itself to the world. Think caterpillar and butterfly. One of the saddest things is to be standing in all your glory and have no one takes notice or validate you.

Alice Walker said this in the book The Color Purple, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it’s always trying to please us back.”

Notice your spouse, notice your parents, your dearest friends, notice the tiny sweet spirit in your pets and yes, notice a flower.

Another quote often spoken is “Don’t forget to smell the flowers.”

This stage in life is often a person in their late twenties and thirties. This is the time period where the flowers vivacious colors and pleasant aroma attract bees and pollination happens. This is the time most couples have children and reproduce, others give birth to their dreams. Some are still brightly blooming in their forties. Henry Ford invented his model T when he was 45, Vera Wang became a famous designer at 40 and Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at 50.

Then once you pass this time period you reach the 60’s and 70’s and the vibrant colors and sweet smelling fragrance start to fade. The red velvet petals turn pale and begin to drop. The limbs begin to lack strength and before you know it you realize you are a flower fading fast– here today and gone tomorrow.

So how do we deal with this later stage, this golden era? At times it can be difficult. You see youth in others and vitality and you realize that when you had it, you were not even aware of its worth and more so if you have health issues. But something else happens, you begin to appreciate life. You notice the small things and you appreciate the time others give you. You notice the wonder in the birth of a baby. You notice the miracle of creation and you begin to realize that all your years and all your situations helped create you like a quilt that was hand pieced by the Creator.

My aunt makes quilts. She has won several awards for her quilts and has many ideas for different types of patterns she would love to create. When I last spoke with her at her home she explained to me a vision she had of a quilt that was intricate in detail and involved flowers, a garden, and a brick pathway.

She has the vision in her mind already for what she wants to create. She can pick up a scrap of material that you and I would see nothing special in and know exactly how to use it with another scrap to make a tree’s bark or a robin’s nest. To us, it may not look like much but to her, it’s a collaboration of colors and patterns and shapes forming one elaborate piece of pieces collaged into beauty. A quilt of many colors.

We live and breathe and have our day under the sun. Some days are beautiful and other days it’s as if creosote has been smeared upon our fabric. Our quilts become dirty, sticky, drug through the muck, or worse, tucked away in a closet with moth balls, considered old and outdated, antiquated, but on other days our quilts are spread out for a picnic, young lovers cuddle up, warm babies tucked in tightly, a fire lit, a bed dressed, a table spread, a beautiful patchwork of warmth waiting for someone to notice the detailed stitching and vivid colors, patterns, amongst the threads that are coming apart, the backing peeking out and a frazzled edge exposing cotton, laugh lines and smile lines and places where sagging has taken place from a toddler tugging on our hems, and the fragrance of all the hands and feet and breaths that breathed into our fabric, sharing in the warmth of our quilted soul.

Yes, multiple hands mend our tattered edges and yet we in our latter years are still able to be a shelter from the cold for someone. The patterns repeated and passed down to those whose tiny feet slept atop its cloth. An heirloom.

I leave you with this . . . Shine in your colorful purple silks and when you’ve begun to fade, find warmth in your soft worn touch, your lingering scent, and all the hands that folded you and found a piece to connect to your patterns and your beauty and stitched themselves along your heart.

Bloom in your moment and for Pete Sake, SMELL THE FLOWERS!

 

Photo Cred: Arno Smit

about the authorTekoa Manning is the author of two fiction works, Polishing Jade & Walter the Homeless Man. After a neurological illness left her disabled and eventually homeless, Tekoa began to channel her creativity into writing and devouring the Word of Yahweh. She is the wife of a retired police chief and the mother of three sons. Tekoa and her husband reside in a small town in KY. The pen name Tekoa means Trumpet, the instrument that unites people at a sudden impulse.

You can find out more about Tekoa and her writing endeavors at tekoamanning.com

Because You Are Loved

July 20, 2016

By: Juliandra Durkin

I first heard this poem at a Wonderfully Made event when I was in college. Sitting outside on the lawn, one of the girls at the end of the meeting asked if she could share a poem that meant a lot to her. I remember my eyes stinging a bit with tears because the words were meaningful and pressed on my heart. We ALL asked her for a copy of the poem- it meant that much to us! And I hope it inspires and speaks a bit of truth from God’s heart to yours today!

Because You Are Loved by: Unknown Author

Because…

I made her. She is different. She is unique.

With love I formed her in her mother’s womb.

I fashioned her with great joy!

I remember with pleasure the days I created her.

To Me she is beautiful.

I love her. I love her smile. I love her ways.

To hear her laugh and to see the silly things she does.

She is herself and not one else.

This is how I made her.

I made her pretty, but not beautiful,

Because I know her heart and I knew she would be vain.

I wanted her to search her heart,

and learn that in ME she would be beautiful.

It would be my spirit that would draw people to her.

I made her in such a way that she would need ME.

I made her a little more lonesome than she would like to be,

Because I want her to turn to Me in her loneliness.

I make her dependent, so that she would depend on ME.

I know her heart, I know that if I had not made her like this,

She would go her own way,

And forget about Me, her Creator.

I have given her many good  and happy things because…

I Love Her.

I have seen her broken heart,

And the tears that she has cried alone.

I have been with her and had a broken heart, too.

Many times she has stumbled and fallen,

Because she would not take My hand.

She has learned hard lessons,

Because she would not listen to My voice.

So many times I have sadly watched her go on her own way…

And now she is mine again.

I made her. And then bought her. I paid a high price for her.

Because I LOVE HER.

I have had to reshape, and remold her,

Renewing her for My plan.

It has not been easy for her or for Me.

I want her to be conformed in My image.

This is the goal I have set for her.

Because… I LOVE HER!

Photo Cred: Neil Kumar

about the authorJuliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

Bikini Bod and Freedom

June 28, 2016
By: Charmaine Porter
Y’all modesty is frustrating!
This is the one TRUTH that everyone seems to skip over when they talk about how great modesty is and why we should strive for it. I work for a purity ministry and we believe in modesty because it’s important to God, but very rarely will anyone say this – modesty ain’t no joke! It’s tough! And it’s frustrating-ness has nothing to do with the ability to find clothes that are cute yet don’t show too much of the girls or badonkadonk.
Modesty, I have found, is frustrating because it has everything to do with my heart and actually very little to do with my clothes. And let me just tell y’all – my heart? – uh yikes! I would say I’m like a low-key Christian feminist aka ‘men are awesome and I won’t bash them, and girls are just as capable so no, I don’t need you to back my huge Ford e-350 van up, sir! I got this!’ My heart is stubborn and selfish, I like to push the mute button on people very often, and I have a will that’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger strong.
So modesty for someone like me is sometimes hard for me to wrap my head around.
Sitting down to write this blog about modest swimwear was a little bit of a challenge for me [and it had little do with my scattered brain… okay, that’s a lie]. But seriously, I’m someone who thinks that within the right setting, showing a little skin in a tasteful way can be super cute! Wearing leggings is one of my all-time favorite things to do. And to be honest, if were socially acceptable, I’d be naked way more often than not! Which is one reason why I’m totes digging all the “love your body the way it is” messages that are going on in our culture today!
See, I struggled with liking, let alone loving who God created me to be for Y E A R S! I’ve never been a small girl and my “baby” fat decided it wasn’t going anywhere until I was well into high school, and even then it still made its presence very known. I was in the 90th percentile for kids my age all while growing up so I was always the tallest, the heaviest, the first girl to get boobs and her period (ah, fourth grade memories). Because my body grew so fast, my skin couldn’t keep up, so I have stretch marks just about everywhere you could imagine, which made things even tougher. I didn’t like me for a long, long, long time!
But as I grew closer to Jesus – and I don’t just say that because it’s the Christian thing to say. No, seriously getting closer to Jesus WILL change how you see EVERYTHING! And if it isn’t/hasn’t, just scootch a little bitter closer to Him and give it time. Anyway, as He and I got closer, my perception of me started to change. Plus all my Zumba-ing and Jillian Michaels kicking my butt was starting to pay off, so I was ready to SHAKE WHAT MY MOMMA GAVE ME!!! Yo, I was seriously ready to let it all out; I was ready to strut my stuff!
In Jesus, I’d found that FREEDOM that we love to talk about from pulpits. Whoo!
Only I couldn’t. Not in good conscious anyway. I couldn’t just go out and wear what I wanted to wear, say what I wanted to say, go where I wanted to go. And it was FRUSTRATING! I knew God was healing my view of myself. He was giving me confidence. So why couldn’t I wear what I wanted to wear? If I’m proud of my body now and thankful for what He’s done in it and with it, what’s the big deal with wearing certain things? Can you relate? Frustrating freedom is what I felt. I didn’t understand and God and I had a good long talk one night after I’d returned home from Target with a super cute bikini top that I was so excited to wear on my upcoming cruise vacation with my sister. I huffed and puffed and He listened to me. And in His oh so sweet and gentle yet firm way, He invited me to look at my heart with His mirror.
As I peered in, I saw that on the surface it sounded like I wanted to give God a shout-out as I chose certain clothes, but beneath, I wanted to be seen. I wanted to show off my hard work. I wanted to show how much I had grown. I looked in that mirror long enough to be smacked in the head with something – God does things in and through my body not for me but for Him. Always! He’s concerned about His glory and His name. And the only way to truly please Him is to get on board with His agenda. Girls, let’s be honest – our desire to be seen, noticed, and found attractive, that’s all normal. But those desires left to their own devices become dangerous. Our wills have to bend to His because even down to what we wear, it’s never about us
As you do your summer shopping, as you plan outfits for your weekend trips, as you head to weddings and concerts, as you just do YOU like no one else can, keep in mind – better yet, just as you check your makeup in your phone (don’t lie, you know you do! Me too, girl!) get with Jesus and ask Him to take out His mirror for you to check out your heart ever so often.
Finding modest swimwear, to me, is all about your heart. Ask yourself, who or what are you trying to show off with what you wear?
I’m not going to tell you the do’s and don’t’s of what to wear because if modesty is a heart issue, then what you put on or leave off your body is between you and Jesus. I will say these 2 things though: 1. We aren’t supposed to be selfish with our freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:13) so be you big, small, tall, short, black, white, yellow, or purple, your bod does have an affect on others. Keep that in mind. 2. You can wear high neck and long-sleeved shirt paired with flowy skirts that come down to your ankles and STILL be immodest in the eyes of God.
Maybe this summer, do yourself a favor and give yourself a break! Forget the “rules” ugh, they’re so restricting! Don’t settle for being the “good” girl who wears the “right” thing, says the “right” things, goes to the “right” places – yeah it all looks great on the outside – but good girls are boring. Yeah, I said it. Being good for goodness sake or so others will think you are a good Christian means nothing to the Lord. He’s not looking for good girls. He’s looking for holy girls because that’s who He sent Jesus to die and rise again for you to be. Be a holy girl – they are far more interesting! Holy girls know that it’s about the heart and a person’s motivations so they always takes things a bit further than the good girls aka they live more! And let me tell you, any frustration that comes along pursing holiness and with living with His glory in mind (because it does come!) is totally worth the gifts of joy, freedom, and intimacy with Him; He gives as blessings for obeying Him.

So talk to Him about your bathing suit choices. He’s LOVE to be included in your shopping trip. Enjoy His freedom by LIVING IT UP this summer, holy girl! You do you LOUD and PROUD – All for His glory!

…to Him be ETERNAL praise!!!!! Psalm 111:10

about the author

Charmaine Porter has worked with girls and women of all ages for 10 years. Her degree in Communications and her credits in Bible and Psychology have prepared her for the work she does at Pure Freedom based out of Pennsylvania. Her heart’s passion is to see people of all ages be introduced to the Jesus of the Bible – not the Sunday School version – and enjoys having discussions about spiritually complicated things where there are no easy, cookie-cutter answers and every leaves with their brains hurting but thinking. She recently discovered Snapchat, loves Instagram, wastes way too much time on Facebook, and hopes to start a blog of her own soon so be on the lookout!

Growing with Purpose

June 16, 2016

By: Kate Rapier

There is this tree right outside of my front window. A wall of trees actually. They are big, lush, green trees. Not evergreens, but in the spring and summer months they are big, vibrant, beauitiful trees. I apologize that I do not know the proper name for these guys, but botany has never been my strong suit. All I know is that they are tall, green, and beautiful.

I was drinking coffee while looking out the window at this row of big green trees one morning, and smack in the middle I saw a small amount of bright red. I was so confused. I thought it had to be a very still red cardinal. It was that kind of intense, bright red that just stood out. Once I realized the red wasn’t moving, my only other rational thought was that I must be hallucinating or that my eyes were bleeding. Ha! Seriously…I just didn’t understand it. There, about twenty feet high, on a little branch something BRIGHT red. I rubbed my eyes (and really secretly prayed my eyes weren’t bleeding) and tried to focus. I also prayed that I hadn’t completely lost my marbles and that I hadn’t started hallucinating.

And then I saw it. FLOWERS. Red, bright, blooming flowers. Like, real flowers with petals. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I have never seen flowers blooming, ALONE, out on a branch, 20 something feet in the air. Yet, there they were. In a sea of green, there stood these brave little bloomers.

Ever since spotting them, I am completely fascinated. I think I am so enthralled because I feel like I am those flowers sometimes. I feel like they are out there, literally “out on a limb,” doing their own thing. I think about how it’s lonely sometimes not being planted with other flower friends in the same box. That being out on a limb, they don’t have the security of rich soil surrounding them when rain, wind and storms start to come.

Yet, these flowers, right where they are planted, are GROWING and serving a PURPOSE. And it reminded me that I, too, am growing and serving a purpose…even when it feels like I’m alone, out on a limb.

Also when I take a closer look, these flowers aren’t just out there alone doing it by themselves. They are actually connected to a tree. Growing from a tree. A big, strong, vibrant tree…whose roots run deep into the ground. And it reminded me how important it is for me to be connected. Connected to something bigger than myself, my Creator, and connecting myself with other friends who nourish my soul and who lift me up. Because the lie that I am out there on my own, is just that: a lie.

It also reminded me that I can’t compare myself to where others are planted. For where I am planted is serving a unique purpose that only I can fulfill. But guys, why is that so hard? I know comparison steals joy, but it’s still a trap I have to fight hard to not let myself fall into. It’s been a real struggle for me lately. God is gently reminding me. Sweet one, I have you planted where I want you to be planted. You are growing and serving a purpose.

So, thank you bright red flowers for teaching me to appreciate where I’m planted. Thank you for the reminder that I am growing and fulfilling a purpose meant just for me. In a sea of green leaves and foliage I want to be more like you. Bright, vibrant, fully present and rocking it on my branch out there in this crazy awesome world.

Photo Cred: Chelsea Steller

about the author

Kate Rapier grew up all over the world. She attended school on 3 different continents (Europe, Africa, and North America.) Her love of music eventually landed her in Nashville where she currently writes and performs as one half of the pop/acoustic duo, Jill and Kate. When she’s not writing or performing, you can find Kate drinking coffee or wine, eating candy, and seeking out adventure…probably all at the same time.

5 Modesty Myths and Cute Summer Styles

June 8, 2016

By: Danielle Kingsley

“I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothing. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.” I Timothy 2:9-10 (NLT)

I had the honor of traveling the country this past year talking to young girls and their moms about a topic I am most passionate about – modesty. I deeply value modesty and believe it needs to be taught and modeled to the next generation. We are called as daughters of the King to live modestly, so that we aren’t drawing attention to ourselves, but ultimately that we are pointing the world to God!

The topic of modesty can be controversial at times within the church. Some say modesty can be sexist, while others may take it to the extremes. Now, we don’t need to run out and grab our rulers and turtlenecks quite yet –  because modesty isn’t just about what we wear – it’s about the state of our hearts and how we present ourselves while representing Who we serve.

There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to modesty – let’s look at five of them.

1. Modesty suggests we are ashamed of our bodies.

Modesty isn’t about “covering up” our bodies because we aren’t confident in them. Modesty is about respecting our bodies and realizing our value. Beauty isn’t showing more skin – beauty comes from the inside out. Some of the most gorgeous women I know live out the call of modesty, and I believe this makes them even more beautiful. We are created in the image of God, my sisters!

2. Modesty is unattractive to the opposite sex. 

We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” I believe we attract what we represent. If a man doesn’t see your beauty because you dress modestly, then he is not the kind of man you want to marry! Modesty is attractive. A woman who is confident in herself, so much so that she doesn’t see the need to dress immodestly is attractive. I know so many godly men who only have eyes for their wives/girlfriends in any room, not because these women show a lot of skin, but because these women are confident in who they are in Christ, and in turn are truly radiant.

3. Modesty isn’t a woman’s problem. 

I’ve read and heard a lot of arguments in which it is stated that women should be able to wear whatever they want, and if a man has lust in his eyes, well that’s his problem. Certainly, lust is a sin, and one in which an individual must answer for – but why not help our brothers in Christ out a little by not wearing immodest and indecent clothing? Men are visual beings, and we can’t blame them for their struggles if we are encouraging the problem. Let’s not tease our brothers in Christ – let’s help them win, and meanwhile save a little something for our husband/future husband’s eyes only.

4. Revealing clothing isn’t a distraction – it’s just clothes. 

How we present ourselves matters because of Who we are ultimately representing. When clothes are revealing, it is likely we are leaving an impression of immodesty, instead of leaving an impression of God. Immodest clothing is a distraction because it draws attention to us, and draws attention away from the One we are representing.

5. Modesty is so 2000 and late. 

I’ve often heard that the concept of modesty is outdated – but God’s Word doesn’t have an expiration date. We are called to live a modest lifestyle – no matter our age and no matter the date on the calendar. Modesty doesn’t have to come at the price of fashion. A few of my young friends and I pulled together some of our favorite modest summer looks to help you jump-start your summer fashion on the right foot!

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Lauren is as cute as they come and has impeccable grace and style. Shop her boho inspired look here.

 

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Shelby’s vibrant outfit is perfect for either day or night! How cute are her Warby Parker glasses? Shop her look here.

 

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I love dressing up a pair of skinny cargo pants with a pair of wedge heels and jewelry. I am huge fan and supporter of The Giving Keys. Check them out here and shop my look here.

 

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Katie has effortless style – perfect for a day at The Farmer’s Market or the weekend! Shop her look here.

 

Photo Cred: Danielle Kingsley

about the authorDanielle Kingsley, a Southern California native, served as a missionary and worship leader for ten years at a growing church planted by her family in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2007, Danielle moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she was provided the opportunity to be the original vocalist to record the now popular worship song, Your Great Name. In 2013, she released her first EP Falling, that generated two #1 singles on International Christian radio.

Since the recent loss of her father to a brief battle with cancer, Danielle has been sharing her story about finding hope through loss and the peace that is found in Jesus at a variety of conferences across the United States. She is writing her first children’s book and devotional, and is currently on tour with Secret Keeper Girls. Check out her blog at www.DanielleKingsley.com. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter @DKingsleyMusic

Tips for Preparing for Wedding Season

May 22, 2016

By: Rachel Brown

Wedding season is upon us, and for many of us, that means we have several back-to-back weekends that will be spent celebrating brides-to-be at their bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and the actual weddings themselves. Whether we’re a member of the bridal party or not, we all have supportive roles to play as our dear family members and friends enjoy this exciting season of their lives. Below you’ll find some tips for preparing for the upcoming wedding season, and we’d love to hear if you have any advice or ideas to share!

Bridal Shower Etiquette

If you’re a bridesmaid and no one has stepped up to plan a bridal shower yet, consider asking the other women in the bridal party to host the event with you. By sharing in this responsibility, you’ll cut down on costs as well as the length of your to-do list. Make sure to consult the bride on her vision for the shower—some ladies may want the whole thing to be a surprise while others will have a specific vision for the event, giving you some helpful direction while you’re planning the party. Even though the shower itself is truly a gift, hosts should still plan to give the bride a little treat on the day of the event. It needn’t be large—it can be something small from the bride’s registry or it can be something sentimental or handmade—but there should be some special gift for the bride to open on her sweet day.

As a guest, the best thing you can do is reply to a bridal shower as soon as you receive the invitation. It’s no fun for hosts to track you down to get your response. In regards to a gift, the registry really is the best place for purchasing a little treat. Typically registering is a fun process for a bride and groom as they plan their future together, and by sticking to the gift list, you’re giving the couple an item that they really want or need.

Bachelorette Party Etiquette

For bridesmaids and friends alike, the bachelorette party should be a time of fun, not stress. Traditionally the Maid or Matron of Honor plans this event, but if you’re not in this role feel free to offer to help in small way (by making a reservation at a fun restaurant or gathering up party favors, for example)—regardless of whether she takes you up on it, the MOH will certainly appreciate the gesture.

Bachelorette parties are increasingly becoming an opportunity for a fun weekend trip at a special destination, but costs can add up quickly. Do not be afraid to say no to a trip if it’s not in your budget, or to just participate in one day’s events instead of a whole weekend-long shebang. Don’t offer up lengthy excuses regarding why you can’t come or participate the whole time—even though our intentions are good, sometimes these detailed explanations can come across as hurtful to the bride. Do clarify why you can’t come if you’re in the wedding party, however—as a special member of the bride’s posse, it will help her feel cherished and loved if you are open and honest regarding why you can’t participate.

The bachelorette party can sometimes be a sensitive subject, as brides-to-be tend to invite smaller groups of friends to this event than to her shower. Some brides only include their wedding parties. If you are not invited for some reason, don’t take it personally. Remember that this season is a special one for your friend and she has her reasons for limiting the size of a group or choosing to curate a guest list in a specific way. If it bothers you enough to say something, wait until after the wedding, as the months leading up to the big day can be filled with stress for the bride. Be gracious and gentle in your understanding that you may not be able to see the whole picture right now.

Wedding Etiquette

As with the bridal shower, replying to the invitation on time is so important. Brides are fervently planning every last detail of their special day and it’s crucial that they have an accurate head count when reporting information to venues and caterers. So help them out by sending in your RSVP in a timely fashion.

Regarding gifts, you may feel like your wallet has been emptied out if you’ve already participated in the bridal shower and bachelorette party (and purchased presents for both events!). Traditional etiquette may dictate that a gift is required at a wedding but most brides these days are most grateful for your presence, not your presents, on their wedding day. Especially if you’re in the wedding party and you’ve purchased bridesmaid’s attire, you have probably already shelled out plenty of cash in honor of your friend. But writing a thoughtful card is a really nice touch, regardless of whether or not you decide to give a gift, and offering last-minute help (picking a grandparent up from the airport, overseeing the signing of the guest book, ordering lunch for the bridal party) can be a huge blessing for a bride on her big day as well.

 

Photo Cred: Sweet Ice Cream Photography

about the authorRachel  is the Director of Project Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband and their adorably large English mastiffs.