Confident, Strong, and Beautiful!

Have you ever considered the expression, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”?

Who finds you “beautiful?

Who is “beholding” you?

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I have long thought the pressure placed on young women in the entertainment industry to look a certain way, to be constantly judged, has to be part of the reason why so many self-destruct. Who can handle that constant barrage of criticism? And how can we expect adolescents who are in the middle of developing their self-identity to do so in a healthy way?  We ALL go through awkward stages of growth.  That passes, but the messages we identify with about who we are can stay a LONG time.

Yet, here we are with all of our social media apps, filters, swipes, and likes. The strangest things can go viral, being seen by millions. And with all those views – inevitably – critical, judgmental, hateful comments are posted by those who don’t care, and honestly, whose opinions really don’t matter.

Haters are gonna hate.

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Oh, but friend, there’s Someone who beholds you who calls you beloved.

Read on . . . .


Confident with Strength and Beauty

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I’m still learning  to trust God’s love and His plans.

The objective here is to understand the difference between what the world says is beautiful, and what is beautiful to God. It is summed up in the lesson title. We take our confidence in the knowledge of our value to God, His plans for us. It’s ok to care about how we look, but our evaluation of beauty uses a completely different standard than the world’s standard. We clothe ourselves with dignity and beauty befitting a princess, a daughter of God, not spoiled, but using modesty and an internalized confidence.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
 her arms are strong for her tasks.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
 for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed;
 she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
 and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
 she can laugh at the days to come.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
 her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things,
 but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
 but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
 and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Discussion Questions

  • What does a beautiful woman look like?
  • Do you agree with the phrase, “Pretty is as pretty does?”
  • How often do you compare yourself to someone else and concentrate on your physical “imperfections?” (Or someone else’s)
  • Does it even matter if someone is beautiful, or feels beautiful?
  • Is it ‘Confidence creates beauty’, or ‘Beauty creates confidence’?

I think most of us recognize the importance placed on physical beauty. But I also believe there is spiritual beauty. Some may have one without the other. Is this something God cares about? How does this matter to our being daughters and disciples? Let’s look at a few verses that mention beauty, glory, and confidence.

  • Zechariah 9:16 – 17 (HCSB) “The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of His people; for they are like jewels in a crown, sparkling over His land. How lovely and beautiful they will be? Grain will make the young men flourish, and new wine, the young women.”
  • Revelation 19: 7 – 8 (HCSB) “ ‘Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. She was permitted to wear fine linen, bright and pure.’ For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.”  (Note: This is a reference to the bride of Christ, the church.)
  • Psalm 112 (HCSB) Hallelujah! 
Happy is the man who fears the Lord, 
taking great delight in His commands. His descendants will be powerful in the land;
 the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, 
and his righteousness endures forever. Light shines in the darkness for the upright. 
He is gracious, compassionate, and righteous. Good will come to a man who lends generously
 and conducts his business fairly. He will never be shaken.
 The righteous man will be remembered forever. He will not fear bad news;
 his heart is confident, trusting in the Lord. His heart is assured; he will not fear. 
In the end he will look in triumph on his foes. He distributes freely to the poor;
 his righteousness endures forever.
 His horn will be exalted in honor. The wicked man will see it and be angry; 
he will gnash his teeth in despair.
 The desire of the wicked man will come to nothing. Don’t get caught up in the male pronouns here. Read it with your name substituted where appropriate.

Questions to Consider

  • How does what we wear contribute to our appearance of beauty?
  • If even God recognizes that fine clothes and jewelry are significant items to show beauty and honor, then is it considered vanity to care about them?
  • Does being confident in the love of Christ for us really cause us to be beautiful?
  • Where does that confidence and strength come from?

Why It Matters

When a woman is truly loved and she knows it, she carries herself with a confidence that speaks louder than her physical features or her clothes. There is nothing wrong with the desire to be seen as lovely. However, thinking that our outward loveliness is in direct correlation to our worth proves to undermine the very value God has for us. There is something wrong when we accept a definition of beauty that contradicts what is true and destroys the confidence that we can have in God’s love. Again, we fall into a trap of listening to the lies that the world tells us, trying to compete in a system that leaves us frustrated and inevitably on the losing end. God’s righteousness, that which we have received through the blood of Jesus Christ, is what makes us beautiful and worthy to be clothed in fine linen and jewels. Collectively, we are the bride of Christ as members of the church. When we trust God, we have nothing to fear for nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

My Story

In Stasi Eldredge’s, Your Captivating Heart, she discusses a woman’s beauty. Beginning on page 39, she writes, “God gave Eve a beautiful form and a beautiful spirit. She expresses beauty in both. Better, she expresses beauty simply in who she is. Like God, beauty is her essence.”   She compares how it feels to be caught in loud, smelly city traffic and to be in a quiet, beautiful place like a garden. “Amid beauty, there is room for your soul.” She describes how beauty brings in peace. “That is what beauty says: All will be well.”

When life gets chaotic, uncertain, and mean, we have the Prince of Peace in our hearts. We know God loves us. We are confident that He is trustworthy. Bad things are going to happen, but we are not lost. Hard things will come our way. It is especially at these times that we can call on our Heavenly Father to provide us with a way, with hope, and to help us through them. This peace and assurance is beautiful. We can stand up straight and face the day with strength.

I came to this section thinking mostly of the strength and confidence part. I am not considered traditionally, physically beautiful. There are days I don’t feel too unattractive, and other days I would rather not be seen. By God’s design, I found someone who finds me beautiful and appreciates me for who I am. God has shown me over the years, that a beautiful woman is one who trusts Him. The strength of His love for me gives me the confidence I need to face all of life’s uncertainties. He causes me to be able to handle the trials of the unknown with grace. Anytime anxiety comes over me, even if it takes me a while to recognize it, I know I can go to Him to find peace. This joy, this level of confidence, this certainty that He hears me, knows me, loves me, and wants to spend time with me helps me find the grace I need. By His grace, I am made righteous, meaning one day, I will be adorned in fine linen as a member of the church. The knowledge and belief that His love – for me – endures forever gives me peace, confidence, strength and beauty.

I didn’t always have that assurance. At least I didn’t recognize it. (The world’s standard is in direct opposition to the firm foundation we find in Jesus Christ.) Our appearance is one of the frontlines for this battle. He patiently helped me work through the lies that kept me from being able to receive His love. Sometimes, I still get lost in the turmoil of relationships and life. There is so much more to learn. I look forward to the day when I will be able to fully comprehend His love for me without sin and the confusion of this world getting in the way. I long for you to have the unshakeable knowledge of God’s love for you, too.

The Big Question

  • Can you see how being confident in God’s love for you brings you grace and honor?
  • Does it make you feel beautiful?
  • Knowing you are a beloved Daughter of God, does that change the perception you have of yourself when you look in the mirror?
  • What can you do to make yourself more available to hearing and recognizing God’s love for you? Watch for it, He’s reaching out to you every day. Listen. He’s singing a song over you.

Dig A Little Deeper (HCSB)

  • Proverbs 11:16 A gracious woman gains honor,
but violent men gain only riches.
  • 2 Samuel 1:24 – Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with luxurious things, who decked your garments with gold ornaments.
  • Zechariah 9:16 – 17 The Lord their God will save them on that day as the flock of His people; for they are like jewels in a crown, sparkling over His land. How lovely and beautiful they will be? Grain will make the young men flourish, and new wine, the young women.
  • Revelation 19: 7 – 8 Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. She was permitted to wear fine linen, bright and pure.
  • Matthew 6: 28 – 34 “And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you – you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But see first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
  • Ephesians 6: 13-17 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waits, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.
  • Zephaniah 3:17 Yahweh your God is among you, 
a warrior who saves.
 He will rejoice over you with gladness.
 He will bring you quietness with His love.
 He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”
  • Philippians 1:6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Your Captivating Heart, Pages 37 – 43, Stasi Eldredge


Here I am, several years older and a little bit wiser from when I first wrote this post. Many things have changed, and I am experiencing the truth in the fading of youthful beauty. I’m okay with that. It doesn’t mean I’m not coloring my hair or using certain moisturizers designed to slow down the forming of wrinkles. I’m going to make the most of the resources at my disposal. But, I’m also learning how to place my trust in God daily, and I find my confidence is increasing even when, and especially when, things seem to be out of control.

Earlier, I wrote a blog post, What is Beautiful? I think that message corresponds well with this one. It speaks more of how God works through our brokenness.

Who is beholding you?

Whose beloved are you?

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Strong and Confident!

Precious and Valuable

Last week, I posted the first lesson from a Bible study I wrote, Daughters and Disciples, several years ago before my daughter graduated high school.  Purity was about having a pure heart devoted to following God. However, it’s kind of hard to want to follow God completely if you don’t really have a close relationship with Him.

What keeps us from being in a close relationship with God, with Jesus?

I remember in junior high school, this boy was interested in me. At some point while we were at the local skating rink with a group of friends he told me he loved me. I was like, “You don’t even know me.” His declaration of love turned out to push me away instead of causing me to be more interested.  How can someone who doesn’t know me use such strong language of affection?

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Many of us have heard and seen the message that – Jesus loves you!

Jesus loves you

But do you trust that? I wrote about trusting God’s love for us last January in the posts, Blind to Love and If You Love Me . . . .  I could really take the time to explore how well God knows us, but I think I did that very well in those two posts.  You can also read Psalm 139 if you want to read more about the depth of care and thought God has for us.

This lesson is more about our worth and value. It may be helpful to read Proverbs 31: 10 – 31 before reading further.  I’m adapting the lesson for the blog, and I’m going to try to make it a little shorter than last week – more user-friendly.  So here goes:

More Precious than Rubies – You are precious and valued by God

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The objective here is for you to gain a better understanding of your value in who you are, who God made you to be – each in your own unique way. My hope is that you will come to appreciate the love God has for you, how He delights in you, and to not be susceptible to the world’s idea of who – and what – is valuable.

Read the first line of Proverbs 31; then read the next section on wisdom.

  • Proverbs 31: 10 [b] (NIV) – 11 A wife of noble character who can find?
 She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her
 and lacks nothing of value.

 

  • Proverbs 3:13-20 (NIV) Blessed are those who find wisdom,
 those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver
 and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand;
 in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways,
 and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
 those who hold her fast will be blessed. By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
 by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
 and the clouds let drop the dew.

 Discussion Questions:

  • What are the things that make a person valuable?
  • What does our society value in a woman? What about the church?
  • What do you think about the way different cultures value women?
  • What does God value? Does He value women differently than men?

I find it interesting that the comparison of a good and virtuous wife to rubies is similar to the comparison of wisdom.

Check out this verse:

  • Psalm 111:10 (HCSB)  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
 all who follow His instructions have good insight.
 His praise endures forever.

Questions to Consider:

  • What value do you have for yourself?
  • Do you feel valued by the people in your life? For what?

Why It Matters.

If we don’t think we are valued, we are susceptible to all kinds of harmful actions and feelings. We become vulnerable to the lies the world tells us. We will be more prone to making choices that lead us down dangerous paths, depression, and despair. If we don’t understand our own value, then how will we recognize when others devalue us?

My Story

From my early childhood, I heard, I sang songs about, I believed – Jesus Loves Me. I heard about God’s goodness, His promises, and His love for me – going so far as to allow His Son to die for me on the cross so I could be with Him in heaven. Of course I wanted Him in my heart. I thought if I was good, then I would see good things in my life, that the promises I heard about were meant for me.

However, even though I grew up in a Christian home, there were a lot of things that weren’t good. Even though I was in church all the time, singing in the choir, memorizing verses, praying, obeying my parents, and trying to be kind even when others weren’t, I didn’t experience peace or gain confidence. In fact, many things seemed to reveal the opposite of what I thought was supposed to be true. This mostly came from the way other Christians acted towards me, my family, and even within my family. Additionally, I observed that men were considered more important as leaders and for their strength. I was a girl, too small and insignificant to matter. I was not valued. The result was I didn’t trust or believe God’s promises were true for me.

God has taught me over the years, that is a lie. During college, I was torn between wanting to please God, pleasing myself, and others. Sometimes the lie – that I really didn’t matter – won. Sometimes, I was able to hold onto the hope that I did matter to God. Overall, I lacked the confidence in knowing how much God really loved me. I don’t want you to have those doubts, and I want to share with you God’s word that reveals the truth.

  • Zephaniah 3:17 (HCSB) The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring (you) quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy.
  • Ephesians 1: 3–8 (HCSB) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ; for He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

It has taken me a while to recover from the lies I believed about myself, and my place in God’s family. As a woman who fears the Lord and who seeks to live by His wisdom, I am more precious than rubies. I am honored by God, and I am honoring God.

The Big Question (Personal Quiet Time)

  • Do you think God values you?
  • Do you feel valued by God? How?

Sometimes, we have to dig deep, searching as for buried treasure, or go through trials that are difficult, but when we sincerely, and determinedly seek Truth, the outcome is a treasure – a pearl, and each pearl is unique. Don’t forget to look at the scriptures surrounding the ones referenced to get a better idea of the context in which it was used. Doing so gives you a more complete understanding and allows the Holy Spirit to teach you in a personal way.

Dig A Little Deeper (All HCSB)

If you want to learn more about what the Bible says about our role as a wife, take a look at these verses specifically about being a virtuous wife: Proverbs 12:4; Proverbs 18:22; Proverbs 19:14; and Ruth 3:11. There is also a book, Your Captivating Heart, by Stasi Eldredge. I found it very inspiring, and I use it when I fall back into the trap of undervaluing my role as a woman and wife. On pages 118 and 119, she explains the search for the best definition of the Hebrew phrase, “ezer kenegdo,” used in Genesis 2:18 when God makes Eve. It comes to mean, “desperate helper,” as in a helper who is desperately needed – not a desperate housewife!

There is so much to say about our value as women, in society, in the church, as individuals, wives, and mothers.  That would require several posts – maybe this coming summer. . .

Many of the verses I include do talk about women who are wives; however, I don’t think we have to wait to be married before being valuable to God or implementing what makes us wise women.  We are valuable to Him because He created us.

Sisters, you are valuable and precious to God, no matter what the world says. And we would be wise to remember that!

 

What is Beautiful?

Lately, there have been so many coincidences in my life; I can say without a doubt God is doing something. It’s exciting, but I still don’t know exactly what it means. Just a quick update – I’m starting classes for my master’s program this week. It’s a real thing now. The Beth Moore study, Entrusted, is incredibly timely for this transition. I’m being shown how God has been putting together all the events and people in my life for His purposes. I’m doing things I didn’t think I could and being more open to new adventures. It’s fun as I discover all kinds of places of His matching and meeting needs in unexpected ways.

Last week’s post was about God’s holiness. I struggled with it because I wanted us to think about the pure goodness, love, and perfection that is God. No matter how I tried to frame it, I couldn’t just make that picture without bringing in my own sin. I did say it’s hard to understand. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we cannot understand it properly because we just aren’t perfectly good, don’t know how to love properly, and are naturally full of selfish desires.

Many of us have had a lot of snow lately. Looking at fresh snow on a sunny day is beautiful and painful. It’s too bright. God’s holiness is like that – pure, clean, beautiful and powerful.  God’s holiness is like His glory.

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New Living Translation
His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. Matthew 28:3

New Living Translation
The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. Hebrews 1:3

I am the one who walks our dogs in the mornings. There have been occasions when I’m the first one out after a snowstorm. It always pains me to break the perfect layer of glittering beauty to let the dogs take care of their business. I always feel regret at having to ruin the pure whiteness with our steps and other remainders. Even if it’s not me, the plows come by, the cars, and everything gets pushed to the side. It all becomes a slushy, ugly, mess. It becomes hard to see the beauty.

We can’t violate God’s holiness. It stays. It’s firm. It can’t be polluted. We can’t step on it and leave our footprints marring the perfect, seamlessness of it. Yet He wants us to be with Him. He knows us. He wants to have a relationship with us. We, who are so NOT holy or pure. He knows we can’t help it. We’re born this way.

I recently shared with my daughter this quote:
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Every time I think of different pieces coming together to create unity, I can’t help but think of God’s plan for us. Jesus Christ, through obedience to God’s will, who is also God, has made a way for us to be with Him. He has given us grace.  Because of grace, we, who are broken and sinful, get to be made whole, made acceptable, through Jesus Christ. It takes our believing in Him through faith.

You can see it in John 13: 31-32:  New Living Translation
As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will soon give glory to the Son. 

New Living Translation
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. Isaiah 1:18

English Standard Version
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Many of us have experienced some kind of brokenness. At some point, our lives have been shattered, our hearts broken, or we have struggled through pain. The pieces come together through Jesus Christ to create a beautiful masterpiece. What is more different than the holiness of God and the brokenness of mankind?  Yet, He brings them together to create a beautiful kaleidoscope of unity through Christ.

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A masterpiece of this magnitude doesn’t take place easily or quickly. It takes planning, time, and endurance with a focused determination. Through His work in us, we get to reflect His glory. This is Amazing Grace!

There are so many songs in my mind I want to share with you reminding me of God’s acts of love. One is “The Broken Beautiful” by Ellie Holcomb.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpOXrY4BHMA&list=RDgpOXrY4BHMA#t=6

Do you have other songs that express this beauty? Share them with us. I would love to hear from you.