Friday, May 27, 2011

taken by caleb parker

a glimpse into my heart

I am fragile. I think we all are. We just don't know it. We are wine glasses but we think we are beer mugs. We are little dogs, terriers perhaps, but we bark like big German shepherds. We think we are tough and that we will last forever.. I think that sometimes. But wine glasses break easily, and little dogs get stepped on, and I too.. being fragile.. ache, crack and fall apart from time to time.

Tonight I felt it quietly as I prayed for God to teach me about beauty and posted a blog about intimacy with Him. While I updated the site I felt my fragility surface, well actually it was there the whole time, I just felt my awareness of my fragility creep in. It crept painfully.  I felt the ache of insecurity and the sting of fear too. My mind wondered.. "Is this relevant? Is what I have to say good? Is it as good as her blog? Would my Bible studying friends think it was Biblical and theological enough? Is this stuff that I write about really happening in my life or am I just writing so that I can boast in my knowledge of God?"

Humility. That's all I have been wanting the last few days. I want to be genuine. True. Broken actually. I want to need God and depend totally on Him. I also want to love others without judgement. Broken and humble. Lord please free me from fear. I hate fearing things... flying, boating, getting wrinkles, crooked teeth, wasting my life, being poor, failing people, failing You.. so much fear. God please set me free.

"..Perfect love casts out fear.." 1 John 4:18

So back to my blog-posting-fragility-awareness...

Then I start thinking about the photos of me. Is my face shaped funny? Is my hair too big? How do my photos compare to the photos of the models I saw plastering the streets of New York city today? I think its safe to admit that my thighs and butt will always be a bit more.. bodacious.. than my favorite Victoria's Secret model. My skin is also bumpier.. I am not sure when pimples clear up.. it feels like it happens just in time for wrinkles to take their place. Excellent.

There's a feeling that models are at the peak of value as far as physical beauty is concerned. They are so strikingly attractive that they are paid and praised for their appearance. Today as we drove down the New York city streets I awed over their gorgeous photos hoping to see a model I recognized. 

Then at one point we were stopped at a stop light and I saw a large perfume add framed on the side of a bus stop. The girl in the image had gorgeous crystal blue eyes and each of her features were exquisitely placed on her face. She was magnificent. Then as I studied her picture I saw a woman walk by, a pedestrian, probably similar in age to the girl in the photograph. A question arose in my mind,

"Is the girl in the frame more valuable than the girl on the sidewalk?"

The girl walking by was neither eye-catching nor drab, she was just a girl walking by. But the question of value reminded me of a question I asked some of my young teenage friends last week,

"Is a $100 bill worth more if it is clean and hung on a wall, than it would be if it were dirty on the ground?" 

No. A $100 bill is worth $100. The value does not change. Even if 50 people yelled, "The $100 bill on the wall is worth $200! The $100 bill on the ground is worth $25!" They would be false. They may be loud, but they are still wrong. They would both still be worth $100. Why? Because the authority said so. Who is the authority? The one who created the money. Who is that? The U.S. Government.

Now for the model and the pedestrian. Was one of them worth more than the other? No. Even if culture and money scream otherwise. They would be false. They may be loud, but they are still wrong. They would still be worth the same amount. Why? Because the authority said so. Who is the authority? The One who created the girls. Who is that? God. The Great I AM. Jesus Christ. The Creator of the Universe. How much does He say these girls are worth? EVERYTHING. He gave His life to save the life of that blue-eyed super model. He loves her. He is delighted in her. She is precious. And the girl walking by? He gave all He was to save all she is. He gave His Son for her. He was looking at her long before I noticed her and He is still adoring her right now. She is precious.

So... what does that have to do with my fragility? I think it is just a reminder that He knows. He sees me. He sees you. He knows our lives and He loves them. He understands how scary it is to be us. He knows the way we all question our worth, our beauty, our appearance... we all do it. I do it. The supermodel on the perfume ad does it. So does the pedestrian walking by. But God sees, Jesus Christ knows just what its like and He is our answer. He gently reminds us to be still, to seek Him, to rest in His love and find safety in His protection and comfort. Our value is determined by Him alone.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[d] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:25-34

"Why then do we decide what is beautiful in ourselves? We have decided that it is beautiful to be thin, to have our hair styled a certain way, to have our make-up done ‘correctly’, to wear the right clothes; the right clothes which will be the wrong clothes next season. If something is beautiful, it is beautiful. An island off the coast of Baja California does not lose it’s beauty in the morning. 

I am beautiful because Christ made me as His own. He made me in His own image and He made me as He made the mountains behind Los Angeles, and as He made the island off the coast of Tijuana Del Mar; He made me well and He was very pleased. 
As I begin to realise that I am beautiful and as I begin to live in that truth, He looks down upon me and is very pleased."  
-Emma Jo Ratcliffe

"Times" choreography by Misty RasconSmith, Performed by YWAM LA Create track

"catch wind of shaun hover"

Intimacy with God, Is church the answer?

Shaun and I have a marriage that is thrilling, vibrant and full of life; it is attractive and admired by many. We have a sex life that Cosmo magazine dreams of, a romantic life that is fun and flirty, and we are best friends. How did this happen? How did our marriage become so incredible? Well the formula is quite simple... 
We spend one morning a week together.. and that's all! During that morning we invite a mutual friend over. This friend is a person who knows me very well and has a deep friendship with Shaun too. This friend talks to me all about the relationship he has with Shaun. Then our friend tells Shaun all about the relationship he has with me. Occasionally, while our friend speaks, Shaun and I glance at each other and smile. Sometimes we even make small talk and we laugh together when it feels right. It is a morning that we really treasure. For the rest of the week we do not see each other or speak to each other, in fact we rarely think of each other. But the one morning a week experiences carry us into an extremely passionate intimacy that is envied by most.
...So I hope that you see the absurdity in this scenario. That is not at all how Shaun and I really do our marriage, and if we did it would be laughable. Our marriage would end quickly if we took that approach, yet somehow we use that same hilarious method to approach God and we do not even stop to consider the craziness of it. We go to church on Sunday morning, listen to our pastor share his incites on relating to God, we sing some catchy songs, we pray, and we expect that to be enough. Often we are so used to this that we don't even realize there could be more for us. 
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13
Does this mean go to church? Yes. But is it exclusive to that? If it were I would not be a Christian. Why? Well, though church is a mostly pleasant experience, it is not enough to silence my insecurities, or quiet my fear of making the wrong financial decisions, or hem in a marriage that is fraying. Church services alone will not mend broken hearts, or broken friendships, or broken homes. An eloquent sermon on Sunday morning is not what I need on a Wednesday when I am tired and hurting and looking for anything to numb the pain. It may be part of the experience of seeking God, but it was never intended to be the only way we go about it. That is vital for us to know because often we do not have that mentality and so we attend church half-heartedly and do not find the fulfillment we need. Eventually we disengage with God altogether because we long for something more and don’t feel that we can ever receive it. 
God designed us to receive His love and love Him in return. We were made for it. We feel the deficit when we don’t receive it, even if we don’t recognize what the feeling is. Life with God is supposed to be a living relationship with a living being, one that is likened to a friendship, a parent-child relationship, and even a marriage. All of these analogies convey deep intimacy. This kind of depth comes from quality time spent together and openness. It cannot be attained simply by attending church and listening to someone else’s account of their relationship with God. That would be like the crazy story I told in the beginning about my marriage- it could never work. 
So how do we seek God? Well, taking it back to the marriage analogy.. how do we seek out the ones we love? How do I seek Shaun? We make time for each other. I learn what he cares about. I learn what he is passionate about. What does he hate? I share myself with him too. We share our hearts and our minds. We are intentionally open and vulnerable, even when it is uncomfortable and scary. 
If we use this same approach with God we can be confident that it will result in a beautifully intimate relationship that is fulfilling, exciting and exactly what we are quietly longing for. May God give us the grace and the desire to pursue Him, In Jesus Name. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What if we lived as if we really believed the truth of how God sees us? What if we embraced our body shape because we agreed with God that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made"? What if we looked at our abilities and smiled, because we were created in God's image and "He does all things well"? What if we didn't give our value to the mirror, or to the opposite sex, or to our peers... what if we knew before walking into our day that no matter what happens we are still lovely, beautiful, wanted, capable, and valuable, because we are children of the Almighty and He is all of those things? What if when we made a mistake, it was just a mistake, it was not something that determined whether or not we were worthy of acceptance? What if today we chose to believe the truth of God's word?

1 Samuel 16:7 (New King James Version)

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beauty is Found in Him

a video that I made for a YWAM project... its my first video so I'm not totally confident in it but I hope it encourages someone!