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Rise & Shine…

I saw these words on Pinterest…

“Just because she’s pretty doesn’t mean you aren’t.”

…and I had to stop and ponder this for a minute.

On the surface, this statement is so basic, it almost seems pointless – but I let myself sit with it for a while, and began to notice the different emotions that this statement brought up in my own spirit…

I’ve never considered myself insecure or lacking in confidence.  I know what my strengths are and, especially since I turned 40, I know what they are not.  I don’t feel myself needing validation too often.  But, when I read that tiny sentence on social media I had to consider why those words jumped out at me like they did.

I believe it’s because I’m a human…a human woman.

All women, no matter how pretty or talented or funny or charming or popular or smart or educated…or whatever have that moment when they realize:

No matter what I look like or do, there is always someone who looks or does it better.

And there are a few things that women seem to do to each other that only increase the isolation and anxiety that this reality can bring:

  1. We compare – we place value on ourselves and others based on a sliding scale…(“I feel pretty good until that one chic walks in.”)
  2. We compete – we use our comparisons to try to minimize others to maximize ourselves…(“I’m not perfect, but at least I’m not like her!”)
  3. We conclude- we size each other up, labeling each other by our biggest flaws…(“She may be pretty, but I bet she’s not very smart!”)
  4. We commiserate – we use our insecurities to bond with other women who have the same issues…(i.e.: When that “Bible Study” turns into a gossip session: “We should all pray for Kellie because…bless her heart.”)

The reason why that phrase was significant to me is because most women need to hear some version of it every day.

Most women need to know…to completely internalize that they are valuable and loved, no matter what any other women are doing, saying or being.

If “Comparison is the thief of joy”, then the opposite is also true.  Encouragement and contentment are the way to spread joy around.

We could start an “Encouragement Revolution” if we, as women, would just determine to do a few things every day:

  1. Begin each day with gratefulness – list at least 5 things that make you feel blessed.  Say them out loud if you have to.
  2. Remind ourselves of our true worth – look in the mirror and tell yourself at least 3 things that make you unique.
  3. Encourage one another – be mindful of others and what they are dealing with – send a text or message…the best way to be encouraged is to encourage someone else.
  4. Really listen – make eye contact and just listen…without having to “one up” whatever she is expressing.  
  5. Have empathy – really put yourself in her shoes and give her the benefit of the doubt. 
  6. Celebrate each other – if you see beauty in someone else, tell them. 

Women are wonderful and complex, and if we could ever work together toward contentment, we could truly change the world!

“In this world there is no force equal to the strength of a woman determined to rise.”

So let’s rise.

And shine.

Together…

Peace to you.

Angie ❣

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Crushing Violets…

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain

How do you forgive someone…I mean, really forgive?

Are we mandated to just “forgive and forget” as if we were never offended…damaged…betrayed…broken?

Well, the truth is that we were not made to have to even fathom the concept of forgiveness since we were made to live in The Garden…in perfection.

We were not made for this world with its viciousness and filth. But, of course, we do live in a fallen and sinful world where predators prey on the most innocent among us. So, how do we forgive?

Just like the violet, we’ve been crushed – the fragrance that comes from us after that “crushing” is not determined by how we feel about the “heel” that crushed us, but instead by the choice to be the opposite of that “heel”.

I choose to look at forgiveness this way: As long as I let my anger, resentment, hatred, fear…etc. consume me, I am still controlled by the one who offended me. I choose to work through my grief, yes, but not allow my focus to be on the offender, but rather to be on my own healing.

Because hatred toward another, no matter what the offense, will always damage us more than them.

I’m trying to master this myself and am by no means there yet, but I do long for the day when the actions of others – past and present – don’t consume my thoughts, control my emotions or steal my peace and joy.

Forgiveness just means letting go by a choice of the will.
It doesn’t mean condoning or enabling; Instead, it’s an understanding that a God is far more capable than we are to deal with the offender, and we can’t possibly focus on revenge or retribution…or even carrying a grudge, and properly focus on healing at the same time.

Forgiveness means freedom because the freedom is for the violet…not the heel that’s left covered in the fragrance like a constant reminder.

The truth is that forgiveness isn’t about the offender; it’s about the one who is wounded. To “forgive and forget” is a phrase mistakenly used to describe how we should look at the one who has offended us. Instead, I believe it’s an attitude of mental, emotional and spiritual freedom that allows us to “forget” in the sense that the offense neither defines us nor controls us.

The beauty of forgiveness is that it allows us to fully function in the rhythms of God’s grace.
And by that grace we can heal and live in the freedom – the way we were created to live.

Because we were not created to have to forgive (we were made to live in fellowship with God and man in The Garden) it is a truly supernatural act – we are never more like our Creator than when we function in His power…
And I just believe it makes God smile to see us live in such freedom.

Choosing to forgive is a choice to not live beneath your privilege, but instead to just be free!
Peace to you…

Angie ❣
 

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For a little while…

“Let me carry you for a little while…”
I hear it whispered in every gift He sends.

Still, I try – try to walk, to run, to give…
But my hands are so empty and my footing unsure.

I will fall, I know this – for I’m shaken and weak…
My hands are bruised for my trying – and still I fall.
Then, whispering…whispering softly I hear Him say,

“Why struggle so vainly…be still – be still…Just let me carry you a little while longer.”
In my stillness I feel His power…In my weakness, He is strong.
Yet, in my stillness I travel further than I would have ever gone alone.
In His arms I am stronger than I was before…

For it is there that I am who I was created to be.
…it is there that I am truly free.
Angie ❣

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10 ways to love your man

Byron and I have been together for 30 years…married for 27, next month. Although, that may seem like a long time, I know I am still learning – daily – what it takes to love my husband the way that I should.  Here’s my “top 10” for how to love your man:

(*SIDENOTE TO WOMEN WHO ARE LOOKING FOR “MR. RIGHT”:  Although, you should treat any potential relationship as if you could marry him, remember that until you are married, you’re not married.  Any man you aren’t married to is not fully “yours”.  Men are hunters at heart – if he doesn’t fully pursue you, then move on.  If you have to pursue him, especially from another woman’s attention, it’s not the right time.  Don’t compete for him…or worse yet, take him from someone else.  Be the prize.  Remember, if you take another woman’s man, then all you’ll have is another woman’s man…  If you want to meet “Mr. Right”, don’t be wrong to get his attention.)

My “top 10” list:

  1. Only have eyes for him.  Find him in the crowd, especially when other men are around, and make eye contact with him.  Make sure he knows that you notice him above all others.  If another man shows you attention, mention your husband…say “we” a lot.  If another man shows you attention in front of your husband, shift your focus to your husband.  Make it clear.  Real women don’t make their husband jealous of other men, they make other men jealous of their husband.
  2. Be intentional.  Think about his needs and what he likes as you’re planning the day.  With men, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture…lots of little ones can mean more.  Make it clear that he is constantly on your mind.  This Sunday, as I was getting dressed, Byron said, “I really like that blouse on you!”, and I said, “I know, that’s why I put it on!”
  3. Celebrate his strengths.  Don’t let the good things he does go unnoticed.  Notice everything.  Women are really good at picking out flaws – be different.  Let him be the one man whose woman picks out his every skill.  Find at least one opportunity each day to say, “One thing I love about you is…” and then fill in the blanks.  Men are made to be inspired by women  – don’t ever leave that job to anyone else!
  4. Be his safe place.  The world will beat on him and tell him he can’t succeed.  Pick him up every day.  When he leaves, let him know that you’re with him no matter what.  When you see him again, be his soft place to land.  Be safe – don’t remind him of his failings.  Remind him that he can be real with you.  Let him be himself…without words…just let him be.
  5. Defend him.  Women, getting together with other women, talking bad about everything and everyone…especially men, is a thing.  The minute you find yourself in that kind of crowd, become quiet.  Don’t feel the need to bombard other women with how wonderful your man is, just say nice things and never say bad things. Read the room, if it’s not the right place to say nice things about your man, then just listen and say nothing at all.  Defend your husband and your marriage in the same way that you would hope he would if he were in the same kind of situation.
  6. Protect him.  Don’t let him go out into the world…hungry – hungry for attention, approval or applause.  If you leave your man starving on a desert island, don’t be shocked when ridiculous things begin to look appealing to him.  Even the rats will start to look appetizing…
  7. Inspire him.  We were made to inspire men.  Remind him that he can do anything and – if he falls – you’ll always be there to pick him up.  Let him know that failure is just a lesson. Never discourage him at his weakest point.  Be his cheerleader and his champion!
  8. Remind him of “us”.  Find ways to let him know that you are in this together.  Remind him that you are a team, and when one of you is weak, the other will pick up the slack. Never let him feel that he carries everything on his own – even though he will try.  Be by his side, no matter what you are facing.
  9. Fight against “Mommy Mode”.  After we have children, it can become more difficult to focus on the needs of our husband because we have little hands pulling on us constantly. There are seasons for everything, and babies demand a lot of attention.  Just don’t stay there forever…in mommy mode…where the focus is now, forever, on the children.  If you want to be a team, then don’t let your teammate be forever side-lined.  Make sure you let him into the huddle as often as possible…
  10. Fight for him.  Use everything at your disposal to do this.  Pray for him…not just for what you want from him, but for everything you want for him.  Be a warrior for his safety, his health, his happiness and his relationship with God.  Educate yourself as to what he needs.  If you don’t know what to do, find people who have been successful and ask them. Devour the scriptures and claim God’s promises for him and for your marriage.  Don’t let the Enemy get a foothold.  Forgive, forgive, forgive… Believe the best as if your life depends on it.  Love him as if your life depends on it.  Never stop fighting for love – Be unbreakable!

These are just a few thoughts, but if you’re trying, then you’re doing more than most.  Just the fact that you took the time to read this says that you are trying to focus on him – and that’s the real secret to a happy marriage:

Just like all of life, it’s others-focused…it is selfless. God wants your marriage to succeed, and even more, he wants you to succeed…to be loved and to feel how valuable you really are.  When we know this, then we can love others with our best selves.  You can do it!  It’s never too late to make a change.


Peace to you…

Angie ❣