… 31 life lessons

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A few days ago, I said I would post 31 things I’ve learned in all of my 31 years.

1. Don’t be afraid of anyone’s response.
Fear of rejection causes us to be afraid of being true to ourselves. Ya know what else? It robs us of the courage to boldly live & speak truths to others. We’re too afraid to challenge each other and be honest in relationships because of how we think others will respond or think of us. But, believing who you are in Christ & learning to speak gently & lovingly will ease the fear of rejection and conflict. Even if we are rejected, we will know we did all we could to communicate truthfully.

2. Always be prepared to bake a cupcake, open your home, or rearrange your schedule to support a friend!
The gift of hospitality dazzles me. I have genuinely good friends who are the most amazing entertainers. And, I love watching what they do & how they do in hopes that some of that gift rubs off on me! But, even though I’m not an I incredibly social – social butterfly, I’ve learned the importance of loving on your friends and those put in your path in a tangible way. I’ve also learned (and, desperately trying to consistently apply) that it’s important to use great wisdom when extending yourself to others!

3. Yes, making your space beautiful is always worth the time, energy, and money. No matter how long you’ll be there.
Whew! Comfortable, beautiful spaces make everything so much better. Promise! Make it yours, make it beautiful.

4. Learn the balance between working hard at something that’s beneficial and spinning your wheels.
I’m a perfectionist of sorts & I often want to do something until I get it right. But, I’ve learned that there are times in our relationships & tasks that just don’t work no matter how much effort we put into it. Asking for the wisdom to know when to say when and how much to invest is so important. Realizing you’ve cast your pearls amongst swine is heartbreaking.

5. Stay in your lane & mind your business. What others are doing/pursuing/like/etc shouldn’t sway you from doing the things you enjoy or doing what’s right.
Etc includes perceptions of you and the boxes you’re put in. These things don’t matter.
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6. Learn to grow & maintain positive relationships with other God fearing women.
Building relationships with other women has been the hugest blessing of my life. Beneficial in so many ways. There’s nothing like knowing you’re in it with other women who are striving to be and do just like you, women who are supportive and gracious… Women who love you because of the love you share for Christ. It’s most genuine.

7. Believe with everything in you that nothing you can receive from the people around you will compare to the confidence, reward, & joy you can receive in Christ.
Nothing…. Acceptance, love, friendship, comfort, nothing. It’s all in Jesus. There is freedom in this lesson. You aren’t afraid to speak your truth or live boldly before The Lord. Another tough lesson to consistently apply!!

8. You are no victim.
Ugh. We all make choices and sometimes they’re the wrong ones. Sometimes we stick through things longer than necessary. There are times bad things just happen for seemingly no cause. But, the truth of the matter is, wallowing in our pains don’t make us better. Hiding behind a false strength isn’t helpful. Hurt, trust God, allow Him to heal you, & forgive. Then, move on.

9. Not everyone hates you. Not everyone loves you. Don’t worry about being who either of those groups want you to be.

10. Be genuinely polite.
Or, do your best to be at least cordial. We’re all people & all want to be on the receiving end of grace in every situation.

11. Care about your appearance. Even in sweats.
I don’t believe in being decked out all of the time. But, I also believe it’s important to present yourself well no matter what you’re wearing. Comfy can be cute, too!!

12. Rest. But don’t be lazy.
There’s a big difference.

13. Set goals.
Give yourself something to work towards & dream big in every organization, at every task, and in every relationship. Stagnant isn’t cute. In anything. It all matters.

14. Don’t settle, but don’t set your standards so high that they’re unattainable. You can easily become shallow and hard hearted.
It’s no fun being around someone who is never satisfied and who wants to be understood but doesn’t want to understand. We aren’t matured and our relationships don’t develop or deepen this way.

15. Self evaluate and work to be the person you’d want to be with.
…… In any relationship, on any level.

16. Learn to truly forgive and be gracious.
Biggest blessing in life. Talk about freedom. Constantly seeing yourself a a sinner saved soley by grace and not your gifts, talents, or because you’re kind is huge. You’re never good enough to earn or deserve salvation.

17. Work out – take care of your body.
It’s therapeutic and you’ll feel much better about yourself. You’ll look great & be much healthier.
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18. Anyone who sees that you’re worth their time will pursue yours.
Point blank, period. No need to chase or beg. Actions speak louder than words.

19. No one comes into the world able to do everything; but those humble enough to learn from others will be able to do anything.

20. Asking to be taught (vs asking for something to be done for you) & seeking knowledge and wisdom is a few of the most important skills you can learn.

21. Practice makes you better. At everything.
Be disciplined, sacrifice, and work hard. At it all. (Being gracious, kind, on working through hurts, communication when upset. Alllll of it.)

22. Learn to effectively communicate and hear.
It improves your relationships drastically. Working on this. See 21. Lol.

23. You really are greater than you think. And, worse than you realize. (Usually!) We tend to think our issues aren’t so bad and our gifts are immaculate. Even when we are really good, thinking this way will cause us to puff up and become unwilling to give what we want to receive.
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24. Upkeep & your presentation are 1000% worth every nickel & moment. Always. & it’s fun.

25. Learn to be authentic, forgiving, & confident early. Remember that no one is a threat to you – you can either be your own biggest cheerleader or the sabotage behind your own demise.
You are worth so much and deserve the things you wish for. Believe it & live freely.

26. Going straight from HS to a baccalaureate program to Masters & beyond really is the easiest way.
Just do it. The time is going to pass anyway.

27. Follow your heart and open your mind. Dream with your entire imagination.
Believe in yourself.

28. You’re never too good to work hard or start from the bottom. Entitlement is a fantasy.

29. Do it. Who cares? Jump from a plane, get a piecing, go to concerts, make mistakes, take a chance – you’ll learn a lot, recover, have a great story to tell, & experience to recount & you’ll have had FUN while you can.

30. Learn who you are – what makes you happy, what you’re willing to accept, what you won’t tolerate and stand by it. Don’t be swayed by anything but wisdom in understanding the why’s behind the what’s.

31. Remember the spectacular, keep only what’s worth saving, & let go of the rest!!

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… wisdom

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WISDOM.

Doesn’t everyone want to be wise?
I’m not sure about you but if I had to list the top three things I pray consistently about – its wisdom.

Wisdom is the epitome of beauty – for me. It’s better than being “smart” or pretty or funny or charming.

Wisdom – knowing and seeing what should be, could be, or can be and knowing how to get from point A to point B in both direction, word, & tone. THEN, executing at just the right time.

I love it.
Today I prayed that would stay “nose to nose” with God. To me, there’s nothing more intimate than allowing another person to be directly in your face. I mean, you see and experience it all! Pimples, large pores, breathe, eye lashes fluttering on your face, stubble/skin brushing across yours, and eye contact. When you are so comfortable & in awe of that person – nose to nose is better than life. You laugh, you play, you learn, you crave more of them. You are at rest. Completely willing to embrace them and all of their person.

And, that’s where I want to be with God. So close that I completely SEE Him in His fullness and experience Him completely.

I want His wisdom. His patience. His mercy. His gentleness and strength. His boldness and compassion.

And, to think He just gives it when we ask. Without basing our portions on how often we sin or the sins we commit – He so lovingly gifts us with His wisdom when we ask in faith.

Isn’t that lovely?

I said yesterday that everything with God is comes full circle. Our God loves people. He loves for His people to love and care for people. All people. The lowest of people especially. And, would it not be more perfect than for one of the ways He imparts His wisdom to us than through relationships with other people? “As iron sharpens iron, so one persons sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17! Titus 2 tells us all about how the more mature Christian (the older) should teach the younger. How women teach women and how men ought to teach men. Sounds very much like a mentorship or sibling relationship. He knows that we learn and grow from each other. That there is wisdom in those further down the road than we are who can help those behind them grow from their experiences.

Our God is something, y’all. I’m so glad He loves on us the way He does. When we stay “cheek to cheek” with our Savior He grows and matures us into a WISE & blameless people that bring Him nothing but glory.

Praise God for that!

… here’s to our God who gives and gives and gives lovingly & endlessly everything that we need to live a life pleasing to Him!

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… the beauty within

I found this lovely reminder of where true beauty lies on Pinterest… my favorite place to spend a few distracted moments perusing, scrolling, reading, and discovering. lol.

These verses are found in 1 Peter 3:3-4 right after Peter teaches how we as children of God should live our lives modeling Christ at the end of chapter two.

Right after, he teaches wives how to change their husband’s behavior. He talks about the beauty of a woman after telling her how to get her husband to do what’s right (in the sight of God, not based on her own feelings, thoughts, or perspectives).
I find that very interesting. Why are these two verses back to back? What is Paul really getting at?

I believe that we as women are taught to manipulate at a very early age and often unintentionally. It starts early with our dad, grandfathers, and other men in our lives who drop everything at the sight of a tear. What do we learn? If we cry, we get our way. And, it grows from there… we learn to manipulate with our feelings, our bodies, our words, and a slew of other little subleties that we learn affect men. And, soon we are both intentionally and unintentionally manipulating in order to get what we want. And, it works. And, if it works – why try something different?

Paul teaches that we can get what we want (a God honoring and obeying husband) by honoring God in our actions rather than manipulating with our beauty/physical attribute/feelings/etc. (I believe). Sounds like it won’t work, right? I know. but, follow us.

As women, what we want most is a husband who loves us like Christ loves the church. A man who loves us in action, one who supports us, listens and gives great advice, makes great decisions, forgives us of our mishaps and never mentions it again, one who takes up for us, one who serves us, and consistently gives us things that we both need and want. One who is kind, patient, forgiving, gracious, has a witty sense of humor, and is respectable, and respected. One that love the Lord, serves Him, prays to Him (with us), and obeys Him THAT is a great guy, right? We all want on of these ones… One that is like Jesus.

We all want that but the truth of the matter is, although we are to treat our husbands as if they are Jesus, we know these guys aren’t. They try,they work hard, and they goal to be all of the above on most days but they fail. And, they fail because they are human beings just like us. Sinful and selfish in nature.

This sinful and selfish natures causes them to… sin. Intentionally and unintentionally. They’ll commit the “big” sins and the “little” ones, too… leaving us wondering who in the world this person is that pushes us closer and closer to the edge on their worst day.

So, what do we do? How do we manage?
As women, our tendency is to talk about it. Face to face. Talk it out. And, discuss and disect. To feel. And, talk about it all, all the way to the smallest detail. That’s what’s natural to us. To our men, these great big men of ours…their nature is say a couple of words side by side and move on. CONFLICT!!!! before anything is even said! Paul’s remedy for this is to not say anything and let your actions to the talking for you. Calm, respectful, peaceful actions. He can be won without a word. Now, don’t take this and run too fast – we can respectfully state our opinions but leave it at that. Then, act respectfully. Not holding grudges, not stomping, not withholding, not neglecting but respecting him and his decisions even though you don’t agree with him. This makes him feel safe. He doesn’t feel attacked and you are leaving the gate open for him to say “Hey, I was thinking about what you said and……”. You aren’t attacking his ego, you aren’t belittling him, or cutting into his pride. You are creating a safe place for your husband to come to you, to partner with you, to confide in you, and most of all – trust you. Trust that he can make a mistake or a different decision without feeling fear of losing your support, rejection, being emasculated, or beaten down. You’re allowing him room to lead with confidence and trust you to do what you’re there for – to help him! He needs it! And,he knows that he can depend on his respectful wife to do just that.

She sounds pretty cool, right???? Her husband will definitely think so!

Now.. that we got through all of that. (You know I’m long winded…. sorry!!)

The beauty of such a woman. A woman like Sarah and Abigail.. the Proverbs 31 woman… the Shunammite woman and plenty of others who were all beautiful not only because of their outward appearances but because of their character, intelligence, discipline, wisdom, sensitivity, obedience to God, and honorable behavior.

Just like a husband can look respectable and desirable based on his outward appearances but could be more trouble than any one is worth because of his character…. Ladies, we can be the same. My husband calls me “The heart of our home” and I believe that every woman is the heart of their home…. We, as women, influence so much of the “feeling” of our home, we impact our husbands and children in ways we do not always realize and it’s our responsiblity to make sure that our homes are taken care of. That the beauty of our character is valued more that the beauty of our apperance. We all love outer beauty but there is nothing like a woman who is strong, respectful, slow to anger, one who always seems to have the right words at just the right time. One who can problem solve, and multitask, who’s discerning, one whose family adores her.

These qualities represent true beauty… they put us in a different category. These qualities honor God…. they will allow us to be used by Him to reach, help, and intervene for others in a way contrary behavior won’t. This beauty in action is of a servant mindset foundationally – always considering the other person before ourselves…

This Godly behavior allows Him to be seen in us which draws people to us and gives us the opportunity to spread the gospel. It allows us to raise daughters who have a standard of character that will require her to seek and trust God, one that positions her to be sought after by a God honoring man, and become the heart of her own home raising God fearing children with character standards set by God.

This beauty affects generations.

This is the behavior described in Proverbs 31 that results in her husband and children praising her.. it causes her husband’s heart to trust her.

She. Is. Beautiful.
Are you??

….. here’s to endeavoring to immolate the beauty of Christ, to getting to know Him more intimately so that we these characteristics become more and more second nature, and to rejecting the culture’s way of dealing with God’s men in a unGodly way. And, the patience and faith required to do it.

…. here’s to looking past the feelings and hurts of now and focusing on the God given, generation impacting duty of beautiful as an action…. beautiful an act of worship … beautiful as a way of life.

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