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JLOclassyweb

How to Dress Cute, Modest and Classy

 

JLOclassywebWhat immediately pops up in your mind when you think of the word modesty?  An outdated outfit and frumpy clothes?  Or a sober heart, not too proud or overly excessive? 

Do you think balance or restriction from being who you really are?  Maybe some of us think, “That’s not for me.  I’m just not there yet.”  And that’s okay that we know how we feel and where we are…we are all entitled to start where we are judgment free!

GOD knows and He will take us in our current state, gradually adding His own convictions for each one of us.

God will take us in our current state, gradually adding His own convictions for each one of us.

For example, when I was in my early twenties my modesty journey began.  I was so excited to follow the Lord in every area of my life, that when He began to convict me about certain pieces of clothing in my wardrobe, I said, “Lord, this is so hard, but okay.”

Jade Speaks

In this look I took a dress and put a sheer top under it to make it more suitable for a church environment. It fit my classic modest style type.

Clothes that were a bit too tight here or there began to escape my wardrobe.

Clothes that weren’t reflective of what I wanted to represent began to be filtered.

And then I came across a woman of God teaching on Deuteronomy 22:5.  I read the Scripture.  I studied it.  I thought about it deeply.  Today it’s fully how this one Scripture on, you guessed it, the clothes we wear has become one of the most controversial Scriptures for Christian women. 

But I was convinced God was convicting me to wear only skirts.  The key words here are, “Convicting me.”  This was a personal conviction God gave to me.

And I saw the benefit of it in my life.  I dressed up a lot more, explored more feminine options and no longer was attracting the type of attention I didn’t want from guys.

For a season, this was also very helpful for me to overcome superficiality, finding my beauty in my inward man, not the outward.  But over time I felt the Lord begin to release me from that conviction.

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And here’s another dress I adapted into a top with skinny jeans to add a modest approach…

What I did wrong was place too much of my zeal and excitement about this life change on others.  It was important not to place my conviction on others or teach it as if it was a law of God.  It was also important not to make this conviction a source of “holiness” or “arriving in God.” 

What I did wrong was place too much of my zeal and excitement about this life change on others.  It was important not to place my conviction on others or teach it as if it was a law of God.

But on the other hand, I know what it’s like to be persecuted for my personal convictions, even by those I never mentioned skirts to!  Please don’t do this to your friends or loved ones.  It has developed a great deal of compassion in my heart towards those who God leads to break cultural norms.

Placing our convictions on others is a danger many new believers experience as the excitement of hearing God’s voice can cause us to miscalculate the purpose of that experience–forcing it on our friends and family–not just in how we dress, but in what we watch, where we go, and what we eat.  This creates a haughty attitude and a “better than thou” demeanor that repels others from us.  Learn from my experience, this is not a healthy way to go and it stifles our relationships.

But on the flip side, if someone you know develops a new conviction, please do your best to respectfully support what God has told them to do–Remember, this is the same God that told Samson to wear his hair in locks and never cut his hair on a Nazarite vow.  The vows people make with God should be respected and honored.  For me, I see my period of wearing skirts as a personal vow between me and the Lord. 

If someone you know develops a new conviction, please do your best to respectfully support what God has told them to do

An outward expression of obeying what He asked me to do.  And I am grateful to say God led me through a 13 year season of embracing this conviction, whether others were pleased or not.  I was content to please God.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10

At the end of those 13 years the Lord gave me a sense of peace about wearing pants again (which was not new to me, it’s the way I grew up for many years).  It was the time and He confirmed why to me through various means. 

I was reminded of Peter, who’s conviction as a Jew was to not eat meat.  Then, after living out this lifelong conviction, God gave him a vision of eating “all” of His creation.  Was Peter wrong to be on a mainly plant based diet before this “discovery”?  No way!  He was following God’s law.

But Peter was about to reach the Gentiles.  And he was experiencing the freedom to obey God’s voice, which is what Christianity is all about!

So with all these thoughts on real life lessons about convictions, let’s talk about what modesty really is.  First, it will help to understand that modesty is not our own idea.  It comes from the Bible.  And though it may look different for each lady, it is important for it to be a part of our lifestyle.

This word appears in 1 Timothy 2:9 and 1 Timothy 3:2.  It’s the word kosmios meaning well arranged, seemly, modest.

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes  1 Timothy 2:9

In the dictionary, it means

“placing a moderate estimate on one’s abilities or worth;  neither bold nor self-assertive :  tending toward diffidence” or “limited in size, amount, or scope a family of modest meansb :  unpretentious a modest home”

So modesty is about being self controlled in our attitude, not putting on an act for someone else (pretentiousness) or going over the top with something.  We can be modest in our thoughts, in our speech, in our actions, and in how we dress. 

Modesty is about being self controlled in our attitude, not putting on an act for someone else or going over the top with something.

Modesty is not just about how we dress.  It comes from the realization that we are where God chooses to reside and because of that we want to walk in the Spirit.  We want to respect His presence.  We want to be humble in all that we do.  This comes from the heart.

1 Corinthians 6:19 says Our body is a temple of God. We want to represent Him well. 

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own  1 Corinthians 6:19

Let’s keep in mind that, as Christians, what is in the heart is what is most important, not the outward appearance.  And we don’t win God’s approval by how we dress.  We are justified by Jesus Christ alone!

1 Timothy 2:8-10 give us the principle behind an inward focus, not an outward one alone.  If we begin to put how we look on the outside (whether modest or inmodest) before God who is in our temple, we’ll probably find ourselves in bondage.

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Modest doesn’t have to be frumpy or colorless it can be stylish and fun!

Is what I’m wearing reflecting Godliness?  Am I wearing this to attract the right attention or to get a lustful stare, the attention of some guy I don’t even know?  Am I wearing this to help heal insecurities?

As we know our heart, we focus on ways we need healing we will realize why we do what what do.  We will discover our motives.  God can help us see this and this is the Holy Spirit’s role to personally convict us.  If He convicts you it will lead to freedom,  not a sense of negativity or bondage.

Another principle that I like to apply is knowing my “areas”:

Is my chest showing, cleavage becoming a distraction?  This is not a hard and fast rule, but we want to keep our private parts discreet for our current or future hubby if possible.  Pray about this and ask the Lord how He feels.  He will show you where He wants you to draw the line.

Am I depending on the praise of people to give me identity?  If I wear something cute, I get a bunch of compliments and I feel better.  There’s nothing wrong with that but the core of who we are comes from who Jesus says we are in the Bible…fearfully and wonderfully made.

Many times we are told as women in the church that we have to dress more modest to protect our brothers and although this does have a role of putting our brother before ourselves, this can also be abused.  Men also have to carry their own spiritual responsibility in how they keep their eyes, but are we at least concerned about helping a brother out from stumbling?

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Romans 12:10

By the way, even when we are modest it’s really important that beneath the surface we love ourselves, care for our bodies, try our best–this is not an excuse to go to the other extreme of not putting forth effort to look our best.

Well those are my words on modesty plus here’s a few fashion tips:

There’s a few ways you can “work your own look”:

  1. Know Your Body Type (Are you an apple, pear, hourglass or banana)?body-shape
  2. Know Your Style (Are you classic, trendy, bohemian, or dramatic?) style types
  3. Learn to Love Yourself!  Who you are in essence rarely changes.
  4. Learn your Undertone (color) and Color Wheel, are you a winter, spring, summer or fall?
  5. Explore a Few Trends- Certain cuts, looks and even colors could be on trend from year to year.  Don’t try to wear all of them lol figure out which ones look best on you  Here’s a few for 2017:neonruffleskhaki

I’m a classic but I do trends and chic looks as well.  Classic tops, bottoms and earrings never go out of style!  You can still have fun by mixing colors and trends.

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Here I’m wearing a classic white collard skirt and pencil skirt but mixed up with a trendy fur vest!

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Here I’m wearing a classic outfit with bell sleeves, a current trend. You can google trends for 2017 to see the last ones!

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And here I am wearing a classic a line cut dress with a pop of color. All classic though- straight lines etc. I like skirts and dresses that flare on me since I’m a pencil/banana and don’t have many curves lol

And here’s a link to natural makeup options that don’t have any preservatives or chemicals that will seep into your pores.

Well, I hope this helped you understand a little bit more about modesty and I know you will be well on your way to hear from God for your own modesty journey.  But let’s keep in mind that it’s what is in our hearts that matters most!

Love you!

Jade Lee

 

 

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Healing a Hardened Heart

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

It is very hard to honor our fathers, God, or anyone else when our hearts have been hardened.  But if you are reading this, allow me to encourage you- you must have a desire to forgive and be healed.

This topic reminds me of a Biblical character named Pharaoh.  The Bible says Pharaoh’s heart was hardened against God (the Father).  The missing element in Pharaoh’s life was honor.  

He failed to yield, to give respect, or to honor the God of the Israelites.  Pharaoh eventually gave honor tot he Lord, but it was at his own expense.

When our hearts become hardened due to life’s difficulty or pain, we must remember that honor is a choice.  We don’t have to remain forever calloused.

Multiple times in my own relationship with my father, the Lord has convicted me about three acts of love.  He has asked my hardened heart to express love as I forgive, confess, and restore.

I’ve had to forgive my father, confess that I was wrong for holding anger and resentment against my dad, and then make a commitment to restoring him back to his rightful place in my life.  This process has not always been easy, but in return for my obedience, I’ve seen my father travel for hours just to kneel at my feet, weeping words of godly sorrow.

It was through my place of humility that God brought healing, restoration, and the healthy relationship I desired.  He wants to do the same for each of us as we listen to His leading.

Multiple times in my own relationships ith my father, the Lord has convicted me about three acts of love: Forgiveness, Confession and Restoration. I know God can restore any one of our hearts to sweet gentleness and healing.

Multiple times in my own relationships ith my father, the Lord has convicted me about three acts of love: Forgiveness, Confession and Restoration. I know God can restore any one of our hearts to sweet gentleness and healing.

In fact, He promises to give us a softened, loving heart if we receive by faith, saying, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

So go and be bold; don’t be afraid to exemplify love, because you will be glad you took a step of faith.  Even if your father (or others) do not respond the way you desire, you will be able to say you have obeyed a very important part of God’s Word, and your heavenly Father will always be there to carry you.

Let’s Practice This Truth Together:

That it may go well with you in the land the LORD your GOD is giving you.  (Deuteronomy 5:16)

Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you with any needed areas of change in your life.  Ask Him:

  • Is my heart hardened?  Do I need more humility or a new heart from You?  Ezekiel 36:26
  • Is there any forgiveness that You want me to show to my father?
  • Is there anything that I need to confess to You or to my earthly father?  Search me, Lord, and know my heart…(Psalm 139:23)
  • Is there any restoration needed in my relationship with my father?

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the answers, and then make plans to live out anything He reveals.

Talk to others who don’t know Jesus about the transformational power of our heavenly Father.

I hope you had a Happy Father’s Day!

Here’s a pic of me and the hubby on daddy’s day this year.  This was a fun look I achieved through basics in my wardrobe and thrift store finds!

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Get the Look:

Sleeveless Tank- JCPenney ($9.99), Old Navy, Cato ($7.99, many colors), The Limited ($24.90, classic colors, satin- great for dressy outfits).  The key to a dressier look is to buy “seamless” not “ribbed”

Red Flats- Nine West ($69.00)| Forever 21 ($9.99)| JCrew ($135)|Born ($44.51) I found these Talbot shoes for $7.99 at a thrift store!

A Line Midi Skirt- Macys ($24.99)| Zulily ($11.99)| Honor ($240)|Chicwish ($39.02)|ASOS ($40.00)

Purse- Kate Spade ($29.00)|Nordstrom ($33.98)| Humble Chic ($38.00) Really this is a Kate Spade eyeglass case that I used as a purse my dears

Pearl Necklace- JCrew ($26.00)|Banana Republic ($198)

Let’s be beautiful both inside and out with hearts ready to love from the deep place we have been embraced!  Have a sweet blessed week…

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Receiving Healing This Good Friday

Paige Smith

I used to be filled with so much condemnation when I thought of the crucifixion. Why did you die for a sinner like me? I would silently ask God in my heart. It was torturing to read the accounts of how I believed my sin killed my Savior.

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I used to be filled with so much condemnation when I thought of the crucifixion. Why did you die for a sinner like me? I would silently ask God in my heart. It was torturing to read the accounts of how I believed my sin killed my Savior.

That was my perspective of the cross. And without saying it aloud I made an unconscious decision to attempt to make things right again with Jesus, pay Him back for the horrible things I caused Him to suffer on my behalf, though self righteousness, acts of “goodness”, and performance.

I truly thought this was how to please God and after researching the worldwide traditions of how Christians have historically commemorated Good Friday I realize I wasn’t alone in this faulty mindset.

But what if Jesus didn’t die on the cross to hang the guilt of our sins over our head forever? What if He died to free us from condemnation, guilt, and death? What if it was His joy to take our place, an act He did willingly with a heart full of love and mercy.

Let’s revisit this day together:

Over 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ was crucified for the salvation of all mankind and we commemorate that monumental event every year on Good Friday, the Friday before Resurrection Sunday. Yet still centuries after Jesus died on the cross we still are in need of the redeeming and healing power of the cross, and the hope of a Savior.

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In light of our brokenness it brings comfort to know He promises that by His stripes we are healed.

Good Friday, formerly known as God’s Friday or Holy Friday commemorates the day Jesus was crucified and took those painful stripes for us.

Although now universally called “Good” Friday, it has traditionally been a day of sorrow and mournful reflection for Christians. In fact, entire churches would drape black cloths over all the church and turn off all lights as a sign of mourning (Armstrong “The Goodness of Good Friday”).

While being a day where many have historically lamented over the sin which brought Jesus to a violent death, author Chris Armstrong reminds us that, “Good Friday recalls for us the greatness and wonder of God’s love—that He should submit to death for us.”

With Good Friday days ahead of us instead of looking in horror at our own sins and the brutality of the crucifixion let us look on the beauty of a Man who loved us so much He was willing to become our sin and die in our stead.

Reading the account of this Holy Friday Jesus’ sojourn to the cross in the lens of Jesus and His intentions, it transforms from a story of mere tragedy to one of relentless love and hope

What Actually Happened?

As you read the account of Jesus going to the cross it is heartbreaking. His innocence is so apparent and yet astoundingly everyone surrounding Him wants nothing more than His death.

Again and again the same officials meant to find fault in him find him innocent but the crowd still roars, “Crucify him!” Eventually Jesus is given over to this blood hungry crowd and they crucify him.

He is flogged, a heavy rugged splintered cross placed on his back, so cumbersome another man is pulled to help him carry it.

And when he arrives at his destination, Golgotha, The Place of The Skull, it is here He truly meets death.

The nails are placed in his hands and ankles and the cross, weighed down with His scarred, beaten, and dehydrated body, is pulled up for all the mocking world to see.

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He hangs on the rugged cross, still undergoing jeering insults, piercing in His side, and vinegar being brought to His lips.

Yet in this place of desolation, vulnerability, physical exhaustion and excruciating pain, Jesus’ response is not hatred or bitterness to the sinners surrounding Him.

His response is pure love.

His response is forgiveness and intercession:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)

His response is hope and salvation:
“Assuredly, I say to you, today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43)

His response is reconciliation:
“Dear woman, here is your son” (John 19:26)

His response is completion:
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)

In the place where Jesus could have rightfully condemned us, He chose to save us and love us in our trespasses!

Good Friday brings us back to the pages of the gospel where we first met our savior, at the foot of the cross, amazed at his willingness to give His life for us.

This Good Friday let us allow ourselves to be broken again by what Will Regan calls “the simple gospel”, the simple fact that Jesus was willing to be crucified for you and I to be reconciled to The Father.

This Good Friday let us reencounter the Jesus of the gospels.

The Jesus who died for the “Joy set before Him”, you and I. Let us look into his fiery loving eyes and see the One who was willing to pay the ultimate cost for not only our salvation, but our total freedom, redemption and healing.

What do you need to lay at the foot of the cross today? What brokenness do you need Him to mend? What unforgiveness do you need Him to uproot? What relationship do you need Him to restore?

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He is the same One who died for you and every sin, wound, and hang up 2,000 years ago and He is just as committed to your healing today.

Maybe today you feel like Mary, Jesus’ mother who was at the cross not mocking Him, but grief stricken mourning the imminent death of her son.

Are you mourning today? Maybe it is not over the natural death of a loved one, but it could be a loss just as tangible to your heart. The loss of a healthy childhood, the loss of security in a parent, the loss of approval from close friends, the loss of comfort from a mother, the loss of respect from coworkers, the loss of attention from a spouse.

Imagine Jesus stopping everything even in the midst of His pain, just to bring healing and restoration to that area, just as He did to His mother as He gave her one of His disciples to precede Him as the new son in her life.

This Good Friday lets receive God’s healing in our most broken places. Because it is by His stripes that we are healed.

Was this post encouraging for you? Has it inspired you to encounter God in a new way this Good Friday? Please share in the comments below, we love your insights!

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The Importance of Giving and Receiving Relational Needs

Paige Smith

“And the LORD God said, “ It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭

Have you ever wondered why God, a perfect completely whole being, created humans with needs?

We need to drink water or we become dehydrated, we need food to survive, and our brains can only function without oxygen for so long.

If this level of dependency wasn’t enough many of us have surely realized we need far more than merely food, air, and water to survive, we need love, we need peace, we need compassion–we have Relational Needs.

A Relational Need is a need that is met in the context of relationship with another person.

Relationship expert and founder of The Great Commandment Network, Dr. David Ferguson has found that humans are physically, emotionally, and spiritually complex needing both practical essentials and relational nourishment!

In short, we all have relational needs!

Each person, no matter how young, old, rich, poor, educated, etc. has ten core needs which are:

1. Acceptance
2. Approval
3. Respect
4. Comfort
5. Attention
6. Security
7. Support
8. Appreciation
9. Encouragement
10. Affection

I encourage you to look over this list and even visit the previous article, “Receiving Foundational Healing” by Mrs. Lee in which she describes each relational need in depth complete with Biblical references for each need.

We all have the same ten relational needs, but each person has varying degrees to which they need each one depending on their makeup, personality, and life experiences.

I pray it brings your heart relief to know you are not uniquely deficient or “needy” because you have felt a strong desire for any relational need listed above.

Maybe all your life you have struggled with feeling as if you belong, you may have a high need for Acceptance.

If it is important for others to show they value who you are and not just what you do, you could have a strong need for Approval.

If knowing that you are highly esteemed and honored makes you feel loved, Respect could be a high relational need for you.

For me since childhood l have always needed affectionate words and touch to feel most loved. Previously others and myself might have brushed this off as being too sensitive but now I realize I simply have a strong need for Comfort and Affection.

Previously others and myself might have brushed this off as being too sensitive but now I realize I simply have a strong need for Comfort and Affection.

If it is important to you for others to listen attentively when you are speaking or show interest in your life you may have a high need for Attention.

If you value those in your life who are consistent and reliable and you appreciate planning ahead, Security may be very important to you in relationships.

If you have a high level stress job or are simply going through an unfamiliar or difficult season in life where more is expected of you than you are able to do alone, Support is likely a high relational need for you in this time.

If you are someone who particularly cherishes the kind words of loved ones or when someone demonstrates their gratitude for you, you might have a high need for Appreciation.

If a positive word from someone during a time of discouragement truly makes you feel loved, Encouragement could be one of your top relational needs.

Maybe you have read this list and realized, I have all of these needs! Don’t feel overwhelmed. We all have these needs, the only difference is some have certain particular needs more than others.

Often the very things we have been made to feel are weaknesses or are excessive about our personalities are real needs we shouldn’t apologize for having.

Needs, whether physical and relational, are completely natural to have.

Some of us have been wounded and shamed by others dismissing these needs. We’ve been told that we care too much about what people think, we think too much of ourselves, we’re too sensitive, we’re always trying to get attention, we don’t have enough faith, or we need to be more independent.

In response, we’ve learned to ignore or hide our own relational needs.

Don’t believe the lie anymore that you are too much for having a relational need.

God created you to be a relational person, and has given you needs that can only be met in the context of relationship!

You have the permission to have needs!

And it doesn’t make you weak, needy, or overly emotional, it makes you authentically human!

In December, JLO introduced the Superwoman Myth campaign which still resonates today.

Whenever you feel the pain of condemnation over your emotional makeup and are tempted to label yourself as needy remind yourself that you are not a superwoman (or man). You are not a robot devoid of emotions. You have a mind, body, and soul and we each need loving care and attention.

Acknowledging and embracing your relational needs is a beautiful step to having them filled by others.

Not only that, you will become even more compassionate to others as you realize everyone has a need for relationship. Everyone needs love.

If a particular relational need has been highlighted to you today I encourage you to write it down and share it with your closest loved ones.

Let them know how you most feel loved. Maybe it is when they ask first before using one of your belongings (showing respect) or thanking you if you made dinner (showing appreciation) or letting you know they care about you (showing affection).

This would also be a great time to ask them how they best feel loved. You may be surprised they have a high need for something that is not as needed for you.

Maybe it’s especially important to your loved ones that you keep your word (security), or that you offer to help them in tasks they have difficulty in (support), or let them know verbally how great a job you think they’re doing (encouragement).

Try not to assume what may be a need for your loved ones, ask if possible.

Many have learned to mask their needs and worse, not communicate them in fear they will be seen as weak or over dependent.

Some of the most stoic members in your family might have the deepest need for affection. And your friend who seems to be effortlessly juggling every responsibility, could be in dire need for Support. Your shy little cousin could be the same one desperate for Attention.

Seeing others through the lens of how we can give and receive relational needs will make us far more loving people.

Think of a mother and a new born infant. The bond between the two couldn’t be closer. In fact, when a child is born it already recognizes its mothers voice and midwives or nurses will often put the baby directly on the mothers chest after delivery because the very heart beat of the mother calms and soothes the child as it is plunged from the warmth of the womb into a new, unfamiliar environment.

The baby is completely dependent on its mother for nourishment and sustenance. The mother too needs the child in a sense. Scientists have found as a mother nurses after delivery, she is filled with oxycotin, a hormone that beats off those notorious “post partem blues”.

We’ve been taught to despise dependency, but the truth is where there is need there is value and where there is value there is love.

When we realize how just much we need relationships in our lives we begin to value and love people that much more.

We have all been made in God’s image and we have to remind ourselves in times of isolation that God is a relational God. Even within Himself He operates in perfect unity and relationship as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

But above all, God is the essence and definition of Love. All of these relational needs are simply different ways to give and receive love.

If you’ve read this article and realize major relational needs haven’t been met or that you have been ignoring the relational needs of those around you, please don’t be discouraged.

Allow yourself to receive God’s approval for you, acceptance of you, comfort for you, affection for you, respect for you, attention for you, support for you, encouragement for you, security (peace) for you, and appreciation for you! Receive His love today!  (We will write more articles soon on how to do this).

From that place of overflow you will find yourself able to pour into the relationships of those around you who need the manifold expressions of your love as much as you need theirs.

If this post has encouraged or inspired you on giving and receiving relational needs, feel free to share below. We love hearing from you!

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Restoring the Bitter Heart to Pleasant Ground

Jade Lee

There is a woman in the Bible who’s very name means “Pleasant” yet she re-identified herself with the name “Bitter.”  Her name is Naomi and she lived 1,140 years before Jesus was born.  She was one of the fore-mothers, the ancestors of Jesus Christ, also the great-great grandmother of King David.  

Most of us can relate to her situation, because we can relate to loss.  We know what it is like to be in pain, to ask “Why GOD?,” to feel like we are not enough or that we are too…ugly, tall, short, young, old, inexperienced, rich, or poor to be used by GOD.  We know the feelings of it being much too late for us due to our life circumstances or own failures.

Naomi was all too aware of her situation and found herself in the place of Bitter Thinking.  This can occur in our own minds when we are not aware, hardening our hearts in fear, confusion and discontentment.

But Naomi’s life was strategically written by the Sovereign hand of a Loving Father.  He wrote her story so eloquently as seen in Psalm 139, “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O GOD!” 

Knowing that GOD has written down our life story in His book, imagining a chapter dedicated to our own personal lives is quite liberating.  It brings us out of the characterization we so often are immersed in, into the mentality of a reader.  We are able to see beyond ourselves.

Surely the reader feels for the protagonist, longs to aid the suffering character, wants to set the captive child on page 25 of her book free; but the reader does not lose hope.  In fact, she knows that with every turn of the page, no matter the circumstance, the writer will bring forth salvation, some sort of ingenious redemption with the climatic moment of the story line.

It can not end with devastation.

If humanity can fathom the likes of Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, Les Miserables, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, then we can rely on the fact that our GOD will never write a “bad” novel, including the narrative called Our Lives.

He will always bring a good end to every point of devasation introduced within the pages of our text. 

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  Romans 8:28-29

We are the protagonist (the good character), flawed, but in good standing.  Because of our flaws, we are relatable, we are human, we are not GOD.  But we are redeemable because of our hearts that so long to be with Him, to know Him, to want redemption.

Due to our relation with the Saving Character, JESUS CHRIST, we are able to enter into salvation and join the royal family of the world.

This is our story, we cannot lose, because we know our ending from the beginning.  Thus, we have the capacity of being both the reader and the character simultaneously.

Yet we constantly struggle with this duality due to our limited remembrance of the future, the promises of GOD and our positioning.  We know it but we must believe it beyond our feelings, through life circumstances and in the midst of great pain.

We are with Naomi in the catastrophic Cinderella moment of feeling pit-like, at the lowest point, ready to give up and quit on ever being in royal positioning.  In the midst of mental warfare, frustration, evil sisters (and brothers), great grief, pain, rejection and misunderstanding, we must arise in faith- hearing the voice of our Father from the palace of hope.

In the far distance, we can see the ethereal golden points of an enormous structure, towering over the common land, pointing to an otherworldly oasis entitled Heaven.  We dream of walking on its paths of gold, sitting in purple chaises lined with silver, ceilings higher than our necks could stretch and a handsome prince walking by glancing in our direction.

But this moment is oh so temporal, when we snap out of that existence back to the day-to-day hum drum, Waiting Women.

Promises keep brimming in our hearts, due to the constant letters, the King’s stamp brazened as a seal.  We unscroll these secret messages, glimmers of hope rising in our yearning hearts.

Yet life remains the same.  And no one would ever, could ever understand the words within the sacred scroll:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love;
    behold, you are beautiful;
    your eyes are doves.”

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away,
    for behold, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.
   The flowers appear on the earth,
    the time of singingd] has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.
   The fig tree ripens its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
    in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
    let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
    and your face is lovely.”

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”

Who would ever believe that a Prince, a King so great would ever have sent a letter to such a commoner as I?

We are caught in the chilling, bittersweet dichotomy between life as it appears to be and the reality we deeply know to be true- we are more than Waiting Women, we are Waiting Brides!  And the day will come when we are swept away in the greatness of His love.

Until then, the letters will keep coming and we have a choice to believe them, trusting they are true, leaning on the voice of an honorable lover.

Can you imagine it?

She passionately cried the words, “Don’t call me Naomi,”…”Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.  I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.  Why call me Naomi?  The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

We may have said the same, yet we know the truth- we are more than conquerors, overcomers, destined to receive The Promises of GOD.

Amen.

Scriptures for Meditation:

  • Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as GOD in Christ forgave you.
  • Jeremiah 4:3 This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.”
  • 1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves…so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
  • Psalm 51:17 My sacrifice, O GOD, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart to you, GOD, will not despise.

Naomi became bitter in the wait for GOD to finish writing her story, Ruth was patient. We can learn valuable lessons from both as we wait on GOD to do the Impossible.

My Prayer for you:

Father, I pray for each one of your Beloved daughters, no matter how old or young.  Please instill in them a resolve to patiently wait on You to bring redemption in their lives.  Teach them the art of contentment as they wait and pour out an incomprehensible measure of joy into their lives.  I know You want to heal their hearts of all pain and sorrow; I ask that You do so while they wait.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen

Do you ever struggle with waiting on GOD for healing, answers to prayer or the ability to keep a good attitude in the wait?  Please post prayer requests in the comments or share your testimony of how GOD is helping you in the journey.

Love & Blessings!

Jade Lee

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Throwing Away the Art of Perfection

“But I thought perfection was excellence and the Bible says we should be perfect so what could possibly be wrong with being a perfectionist?”

At any time of the year being a perfectionist can be a very real reality, but during the holidays it can be seen in our lives in full gear. That is why I started a whole month of reflection regarding the Superwoman phenomenon.

We were never created to strive for perfection apart from GOD’s Grace and Empowerment. The reality is the life we life in, the people we are and the situations we encounter will never be Perfect- not until the fullness of time when JESUS returns to the earth and we are with Him.

I personally believe the unfulfilling sinking hole in our hearts regarding the discrepancy between what is lacking and what is present is found in our subconscious awareness of the Garden of Eden should be.

In the meantime, as we wait to see the manifestation of Jesus’ words, “It is Finished” permeate our world, we must remove the pressure to self produce that Garden of Eden perfect picture once more.

The problem with perfectionism is it leaves us with tormenting feelings, starving us of joy and peace. We are very aware of trying to be “perfect” to please others, to be accepted and feeling like no matter what we do it is never enough for Somebody. But is that somebody JESUS?

Because if it is not, even if it is ourselves we are trying to please, we have a life of constant disappointment and unfilfilment before us- we are to live for the man who has already proven to love us No Matter What.

Maybe there have been times you have tried to let go of this perfect you to be your true self, broken by life, in need of a Savior, only to be met with the pain of feeling incomplete and rejected. Maybe people have placed you in a box expecting you to be the individual they have created in their minds. Or maybe you’re fed up with not being accepted for who you are, yet faced with the constant irony that if you let go of control, the pain will be too much.

Wherever you are today, even if you are finally in a Vulnerability zone, living as you truly are no matter what, but being constantly fought due to the determination to be yourself…GOD will give you strength to keep being You.

The reality is that when you let go of perfection and the need to please others, GOD will accept you and help you. GOD will work out or complete whatever you come short in and He will bring the people in your life who will embrace you for who you are.

It is such a joy to no longer have to “do it all” or “be it all” knowing that GOD has made us fearfully and wonderfully even in a fallen world.

There is a way to fix the wrong, but it is not in our own righteousness. It is not in our own efforts. When the Bible speaks of perfection that word can be interpreted completion. He completes us where we are lacking. He has come into our hearts to help us overcome these fallen areas- sickness, frustration, poverty, financial challenges, relational issues that we cannot seem to “fix.”

Do you have perfectionism issues in your life? Asking yourself the following questions will help you determine if you do:

1. Do you find it hard to make decisions?
2. Do you equivilate making mistakes with being in crisis?
3. Do you have standards that are incredibly too high for yourself?
4. Do you have standards which are practically impossible to meet for others?
5. Do you have standards too high to meet in your situations or circumstances?
6. Do you struggle with impatience?
7. Do you struggle with anger?
8. Do you have a performance mentality that says, “I must Do more or better because my identity is in what I do?”
9. Do you often feel that no matter what you do it’s never enough?
10. Do you go through feelings of failure, frustration or disappointment when you make a mistake?
11. Do you frequently feel disappointed with yourself, your environment or others?
12. Do you feel stressed out a lot or most of the time?

Perfectionism is defined as “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.” This is problematic when we are in the in between, patiently waiting for the answers to our prayers.

We know GOD has already done it and believe He will do it, but we must exude patience as we wait on the fulfillment of what we believe to manifest in the natural realm.

When we receive patience, accepting our current state- whether abased or abounding with patience we are finally able to find the balance between perfectionism and faith.

We are free to keep Biblical expectations to be perfect in the finished work of the cross, yet trust GOD worry free about the little mistakes and hang ups of this world.

We are liberated to let go of the stressful presence of what should be.

We are then able to rest our need for perfection in the hands of the only one who can help us!

We realize that it’s okay not to be perfect, to trust GOD in these areas, to let go of fear and to realize that no one is perfect apart from GOD.

Ways to Overcome Perfectionism:
1. Accept that people will hurt you because they are not perfect
2. Know that your best is enough even if it isn’t “perfect”
3. Ask for help where your resources and strength fall short
4. Make realistic schedules and goals for yourself
5. Celebrate every small victory in your life with rewards
6. Prioritize what is really important or worth “stressing over” then realize that nothing is stress worthy
7. Pray for the balance between wanting excellence and having unrealistic expectations on yourself
8. Allow room in your life for forgiveness of making mistakes and give yourself grace
9. Meditate on the righteousness of GOD. You are the righteousness of GOD
10. Understand your identity in Christ and refuse to place it anywhere else
11. Receive GOD’s Unconditional Love for you and repel condemnation
12. Be Vulnerable- Intentionally make small steps to share feelings you would normally hide, “bad” feelings like fear or being nervous- human emotions

All of these tools will help you make steps to overcome a perfectionist mentality obtaining peace of mind and true freedom to be yourself, mistakes and all!

Remember that in GOD’s Book you are more than enough and He says over you the same words He said over His beloved son, JESUS, “You are My beloved Son (Daughter) in whom I am well pleased.”

You do not have to be or do anything to receive His love or acceptance. He gave it to you as a free gift before you did anything for Him. And that free gift is there for you today!

Let’s leave room for the GOD Gap (His provision in our imperfection, His strength in our weakness, His supernatural in our natural).

Scriptures for Mediation: Today it is my prayer that we will all get closer to the GOD who loves us No Matter What, realizing that there may still be consequences for our sins but He will be there with us through the ups and downs. Please meditate on Psalm 139 with me:

1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

GOD knows every part of our being and actions; He Joys in loving all of us as a kind Father does his children.

This is how you and I are loved:

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

Let’s know today that we are loved in a way that Nothing can Separate us from His love, living in the freedom of this truth even through our current waiting process for everything to finally be Okay again.

Do you ever face the challenge of trying to “be perfect” for yourself or others? Perhaps you have tips on how you overcame and how to live in GOD’s unconditional love. Or maybe you need prayer. I’d love to help you through these challenges or receive your words of encouragement for others. Your story brings freedom to those in your former struggle! Blessings!