Free to Be Me

happy socsk

Does there always have to be a really good and logical reason for doing things? I mean, sure, buying a house or changing jobs, yes. But how about wearing socks with bananas on them, or putting chopsticks in your hair (although they could come in handy around dinner time)?

I hear a lot of criticism of girls who wear ‘too much’ makeup, particularly from guys. They look so fake. What are they trying to hide? I could write my name in their foundation. I just really like the natural look . . . like Jennifer Hawkins.

The other day my boyfriend asked me why I wear makeup even though I don’t need to. I replied with, “Well, why do you wear Happy Socks? You don’t need to wear them. Socks without bananas on them will keep your feet just as warm. Happy Socks aren’t more comfortable.”

But he uses Happy Socks as a way to express who he is.

I am a girly girl and will go for a ruffle or lace or sparkle any chance I get, even if it means only hand washable. I sometimes wear high heels and sequins that itch and a coat with shoulders tight enough to make it difficult to drive. I wear makeup not primarily to conceal or alter, but to express. The room for creativity in cosmetics is endless—it’s no wonder they call it makeup artistry.

inspire others

Sometimes people say, “Gee, you get excited about little things, don’t you. How is a rainbow or a Kit Kat going to impact your life?” But I say why not get excited, if that’s what you like to do? It’s not hurting anyone; quite the opposite.

Do you know why expressing our individuality makes our souls come alive—why it feels so good to just be who we are? Because we were created in God’s image and our individuality celebrates and showcases his creativity.

Imagine for a moment that in the seven days of creating heaven and earth, God spoke into being only what was practical, only what was functional. No colours, no curves, no smell, no sound. Because what is the point of all these things really? A silent, grey world of straight lines and the inability to ever smell grass after the rain, or even hear rain. Sounds pretty soul crushing to me.

But no.

Thank the Lord—he spoke and galaxies rushed forth from his mouth. All kinds of trees were planted with all kinds of fruit. Birds chirped and rivers gurgled and the sun shone so Adam and Eve could actually see all of this. Animals of different size, pattern and colour were breathed into life, all of them making different sounds. Flowers that ate insects and fish with crazy teeth and headlamps haunting the deep ocean floor.

All of it a form of expression. Creation is made to reflect God and we know that a reflection in a mirror is just a shadow of the real thing. Take one look at creation and say WOW. How good must this God be! How beautiful, how creative, how infinite.

Dr Seuss

So celebrate the diversity that you see in the world, all the eye colours and hair textures and skin tones and fashion choices. We are like a big wooden chest and our individuality like a hoard of treasures that God gives us at the moment of conception that can be pulled out one by one to delight and amaze. Ourselves, people around us, even God.

Use your unique personality, strengths, way of viewing the world . . . to the glory of God. How to make the world a better place 101.

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

Sincerely
Lil

 

Images (all sourced 7 August 2017)

http://www.tfcoconut.com/2017/01/11/brand-know-happy-socks/

https:///11-dr-seuss-quotes-you-really-understand

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-embracing-individuality-really-means-a-m-morgan

 

Then Comes Marriage

When someone begins the phrase “marriage is…” do you think they are more likely to end with “great” or “hard”? Does some version of, “Enjoy it now, because once that ring’s on the finger it’s all downhill from there” sound familiar?

Now you probably think I’m referring to non-Christians. Although I have heard this phrase many times from non-Christians, I am also speaking about Christians. Shouldn’t we sound different, especially when describing a relationship that models Christ and the church?

Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

It makes me truly grieved to hear only the bad things about something that God intended for so much good. It was God who thought it was not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18), so what did he create for him? A lifesaver beside him (ezer kenegdo), an equal loving companion, a desperately needed helper. Woman. How wonderful. And what a privilege to be able to reflect Christ’s devotion to his bride, and vice versa. But how are we talking about it to young people?

Same story with having kids.

What I don’t hear quoted often enough is that children are a reward from God and “like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth” (Psalm 127:3-4). Not that you have to quote it verbatim, but quite frankly I’d rather hear that than someone ranting about how kids have ruined your body, used up all your money and sucked dry all the passion in your marriage.

To a young single person that is pretty depressing—and doesn’t sound much like those verses from Genesis and Psalms when God is talking about marriage and kids.

We’ve been given the impression sometimes that marriage is a hard slog requiring lots of gruelling hard work and sacrifice—that you have to fight, fight, fight to survive—that we’d be lucky to make it out of there alive. Then tacking on at the end “but it’s worth it though.”

Hmm . . . sounds like it.

Now a lot of this probably sounds really harsh, and there are some marriages that I’m sure have been worthy of the description “gruelling struggle” and I don’t mean to dismiss anyone’s pain, but how do you think it sounds to unmarried people at times? They’re scarred before they even begin.

It’s good to be open about the different aspects of relationships and various stages of life, and it is naïve for someone to get married and have kids thinking it’s all going to be sunshine and rainbows, but what about the parts (hopefully bigger and more important) that are filled with sunshine? I honestly hope that there is more good than bad about two of the most important things in a lot of our lives.

All I’m saying is that the other day when someone described marriage and kids as great (without a big BUT right after) it genuinely shocked me. And I don’t think it should have.

#speakhope #generationsofblessing

 

Sincerely
Lil

Images:
https://www.muslimmarriageguide.com/, sourced 27 July 2017.
http://www.salon.com/2015/01/04/6_things_i_wish_i_knew_about_marriage_when_i_got_married_partner/, sourced 27 July 2017.

What is success?

 

Do you consider yourself successful?

The question is asked and you start to squirm in your seat. Do you? You glance round at the others, to see if they are as unsure as you. The question goes round the circle, making its way toward you, and you go back and forth between yes and no about six times each. I mean, you’re not a total loser, but then again, you have that university degree that you’re not even using yet. You don’t own a house. Your car is worth half of what the mechanic says it will cost to fix it. And to top it all off, you’re single.

Better go with no. It seems safer. Plus, you have the added bonus of not looking arrogant to the group. Decision made.

You’re actually one of the first ones to give your answer (a lot of mind changing can happen in a few short minutes).

You say no. When asked what would you have to do or achieve to consider yourself a success, you say, “Become a professional writer.”

Not until this moment have you realised that maybe one of the reasons you want a job in this field so badly is so that you can stop feeling like a failure. Maybe even the main reason. That every time someone says, “What do you do?” it translates to you as, “How much are you worth?” and the answer you keep coming up with is, “Not much.” What I do is not impressive. I sell clothes. No one dies if I don’t get up and go to work. They just buy at Target.

Somehow your successes in the field of retail never mean quite enough to you because you don’t need a degree to do it, and so many people refer to it as their job before they get a “real” job.

This particular Tuesday night last year as I sat on the bean bag I felt tears build slowly in my eyes. Listening to the answers of the rest of the group I suddenly broke in. “Can I change my answer?” in a tone that barely concealed the panic I was feeling.

“No.” Why did that word make the tears spill over?

The other people in the group all said yes. When asked why, the most memorable answer was one of the women saying, “I would consider yourself a success if people actually like you, and want to be around you. Do you have any good, solid friendships? You’ve certainly succeeded in something!”

The way my answer contrasted with the rest of them made me feel ten times the failure I had felt before and I was suddenly undone and exposed.

What had happened in my heart that I constantly held myself to this high standard of perfection? That I had set an arbitrary bar for success and anything that was below or in another area was all stamped with the words “try harder”. Why was my standard for myself so much higher than anyone else’s for me, and so different to what my creator had in mind? Just a hint, Lil. God wasn’t looking at Adam and Eve’s careers when he said, “It is very good.”

They were good because God made them, and they belonged to Him.

Now how many people would be successful in the world’s eyes just because they were created in the image of God? No career, no great wondrous achievements. Nothing to do with what they had done and everything to do with who they belonged to.

When God says in his word not to be conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2), we can often view it as him telling us off, but what if (crazy thought, I know) he put that in the bible for our freedom? Think like me, because I actually see clearly, he says. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so far are my ways above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).

 

What does God view as success?

Faith: without it it’s impossible to please him (Hebrews 11:6).

Love: He wants us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, as well as loving our neighbour as ourselves, according to Matthew 22:37-40. In fact, the whole Hebrew law is summed up in that one sentence.

How do we show our love, according to John 14:15? Obedience.

Do you have these three things? If you do, then you’re already a raging success in His eyes.

It’s not always the most seen and heard, the rich and famous, the bosses, the stage performers, the TV stars and the hit singers who God considers close friends.

Who was Mary, when Gabriel met her where she was at in order to have a talk with her about the saviour of all mankind?

Who was Abraham? Who was this young guy Jacob, fighting with his brother, when God called him?

Jesus was born in a stable for a reason, and it wasn’t the celebrities of the day that the angels first appeared to.

 

What a relief then, to realise that just because we haven’t followed the world’s trail of stepping stones for us, that all is not lost. Actually, nothing is.

Just keep saying ‘yes’ to Jesus, and the day he takes you home to heaven you can hear those wonderful words.

“Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and enter my rest.”

 

 

Sincerely,
Lil

 

Image 1: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/novelreadings/fear-of-failing/
Image 2: http://www.capital-moments.com/the-blueprint-of-success/

What’s in a Name?

Sometimes the name “God” can lose its power to us because of the many false gods around the world, or we have a watered down view of God because of people who worship “a god of their imagination” that the Bible refers to.

But God is not whatever we want him to be. He has a personality and actual qualities; things he likes and dislikes. Things that make Him happy and angry. You can know about God as a theory, but it takes knowing him personally to discover these things.

And although he is one God, he has many names. Here are some of them that reference different aspects of God’s personality and show us who he is. And once we remember who he is, we can never make the mistake of thinking that he is bland or boring.

So who then is this God we serve?

El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
Never forget the unlimited power that God has. In case you need reminding…

Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? … Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? … No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand.
– Isaiah 40:12-15 (NLT)

How big do your problems seem now?


El Elyon (The Most High God)

For the LORD Most High is to be feared, A great King over all the earth.
Psalm 47:2

Although we don’t admit it, we often have hierarchical thinking. Who would you consider most high in your acquaintance? In the world? Is it a celebrity, the prime minister, the queen? God is so much higher than all these people, and no one is next to God in importance, there is no list or ladder. There is God, and there is people saved by the grace of his Son. Jesus is the highest name in the whole world and one day every knee will bow before him and every tongue will confess that he is Lord. There is no unbelieving person who won’t be absolutely devastated on that day. And while there is a season of grace that we’re in now, there won’t be any second chances after the second coming of Jesus.

Adonai (Lord, Master)
People have told me before that they don’t really believe that Jesus is in control of our life once we get saved. Then why is it called giving our life to him?

Sin is no longer your master … don’t you realise that you become a slave of whatever you choose to obey? … Now you are free from slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteousness.
– Romans 6: 14-18 (NLT)

Everyone is happy for Jesus to become our saviour and give us a ticket into heaven, but the Lord part doesn’t sit quite so well with as many. If he is Lord and master, we are about what he is about, interested in the things that he is interested in. Once we invited Jesus into our hearts, he’s not just part of our lives, he is our life.

 

Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)


Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
This is one of my favourites. This speaks of identity, but to me this also says that Jesus ties our identity with us and announces us as we march out to battle. It says that he covers us, watches over us and is proud to be seen with us. Has anyone ever seen a subtle banner?

He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.
– Song of Solomon 2:4 (NASB)

Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
– Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

What a gentle God he is, with that parent heart that leaves the 99 to go after the one.

Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
His kids don’t go unnoticed by him. He has the ability and the desire to heal. One of my favourite parts about God is that he loves to restore. There is fullness and wholeness to be found in him.

I have heard your prayer and seen your tears, and I will heal you.
– 2 Kings 20:4 (NIV)

Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)

She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’.
– Matthew 1:23 (NLT)

In Isaiah (41:9) God also says that he has chosen us and will not abandon us. Have you ever feared being abandoned? Good news. It’s not in his nature.

Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)

In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’
-Jeremiah 23:6 (ESV)

Everything you’ve ever done wrong: forgiven. Those deeds that earned death: paid for. We exchange our dirty rags for robes of righteousness and are made right with God because of Jesus paying it all for us.

Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV)

El Olam (The Everlasting God)

But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.
– Psalm 103:17 (NASB)

Elohim (God)

Qanna (Jealous)
I used to feel ashamed of having some jealous tendencies, but I see in the bible that God is a jealous God. It’s cool when you grow and realise more and more ways that we reflect God’s heart, and that the world around us reflects his principles and glory.

For you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
– Exodus 34:14

Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
Not only does he provide for our salvation but has limitless resources and can provide for every kind of need we have for the rest of our lives.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
Last year I asked one of our elders whether he thought a certain decision was right in my life at the time. He said, “Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) so if you don’t have peace it can’t be from him.” With our God we can have peace in the midst of any storm.

Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)
This name speaks of his authority and refers to him as the commander of Heaven’s armies.

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
– Revelation 19: (NLT)

 

Sincerely,
Lil

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Credit for original list of names of God goes to:
https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm, sourced 17 April 2017.