Seeing Myself Through God’s Eyes

By Micca Campbell

I confess. As far back as I can remember I’ve always had low self-esteem and a poor self-image. As a child I was painfully shy. When I reached high school, I’d walk the crowed hallway with my head down to avoid eye contact. No matter how hard I tried to act as if I had it all together, whenever I looked into my bedroom mirror it revealed something different. I can still recall the negative self-talk as I peered into the glass.

“You’re too short. You’re too fat. You’re not smart enough or even likable to others. You’re friends put up with you.”

Everyday, I wished I were different—taller, thinner, popular, pretty.

I wonder. Do you ever look in the mirror and wished you were different? Maybe you feel you’re too short, or too tall, or too thin, or too heavy. The list never seems to end. It might physical dissatisfaction, or feeling as though you’re not smart enough or outgoing enough that drags you down. I understand. I also know this has to change.

There are a multitude of studies that indicate the way you and I see ourselves determines to a large degree the way we act and react in life. That a person’s self-perception, self-worth, self-esteem tends to be a leading factor in her life.

In other words, if I see myself as a loser, I’ll end up acting like a loser. If I see myself as a victim, I’ll tend to let people victimize me. If I see myself as uncreative, I’ll never come up with any creative ideas. If I see myself as a piece of junk, I’ll begin to think I’m garbage.

The world’s definition of beauty only makes matters worse. The world tells us to be beautiful, we must have no defects, we must remain forever young, and we must maintain a perfect figure and have a “cover girl” face. I don’t know about you, but I don’t measure up to this image. And that depresses me because I long to be beautiful, successful, and confident.

Did you know the desire to be beautiful comes from God? However, because we live in a fallen world, we seek the good things of God in unhealthy ways. God’s definition of beauty is different from Hollywood’s.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful” (1Peter 3:4).

When I read what God says is beautiful, I realized I had allowed the world to shape my understanding about beauty instead of my Creator. God says it’s a quite and gently spirit is more beautiful than the latest fashion.

Our world encourages women to cultivate a beauty that only last for a brief amount of time. God encourages women to cultivate a beauty that will never fade, but will only grow more attractive with the passing of time. In fact, when you become more and more the woman God has created you to be, there will be something beautiful about you that has nothing to do with outward beauty.

I decided from that day forward to stop the negative self-talk and look into the mirror of God’s Word to see what He thinks of me. It was life changing.

Today, I’m confident—not in myself—but in who God says I am. This didn’t happen over night. It took more than reading and memorizing verses that describe the way God sees me. It took faith. I had to believe His Word over my negative thoughts. Once I believed—really believed the transformation began.

Allow me to share what God says about you!

1.)  You Are Loved (John 3:16). God so loves you he withheld nothing—giving his only Son to die in your place

2.)  You Are Chosen (1Peter 2:9). Before God created the heavens and earth, He chose you to be his very own.

3.)  You Are Wonderfully And Fearfully Made (Ps 139: 14) God designed you in your mother’s womb. He planned your eye color, hair color and skin color to fulfill a specific purpose that is yours alone.

4.)  You Are Beautiful In His Sight (Song of Solomon 4:7, Gen 1:31). You were created in God’s image, and He declares all his work is wonderful! Including you!

5.)  You Are Forgiven (Eph 1:7). God doesn’t draw back from your sin. He draws near and forgives all.

6.)  You Have A Future (Jeremiah 29:11). When you think you’re at the end of your rope, you’re not at the end of hope. God has promised you a bright future.

7.)  You Are Part Of A Royal Priesthood (1Peter 2:9). You have purpose. God calls you to minister to others as he has ministered to you.

8.)  You Are An Overcomer (1John 4:4). Hang-ups, habits and hurts can’t keep you down because greater is the Spirit in you than the spirit of this world.

9.)  You Are Empowered (2Corn 13:4). The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you daily!

10) You Belong To God (John 1:12). You are a child of God because you have believed.

~ Micca Micca Campbell pic

 

 

 

 

 

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Inner Vows: Auto-Fortress 101

by Nancy Bentz

Inner Vows: Auto-Fortress 101

Twined heart WEG

Jesus had some things to say about our heart. In Luke 6:45, He was unmistakably plain when He stated:

 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil {Greek- ‘hurtful’} man brings evil {‘hurtful’} things out of the evil {‘hurtful effect or influence’} stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

If only our heart would stick a sock in it sometimes!

Problem is, hearts hurt. And when they do, they go into auto-fortress mode. Hello, Inner Vows – the promises we have made to ourselves in order to protect our heart from hurt. Promises such as:

I will never get angry” (like my father did).

I will never trust anyone ever again” (because they always lie to me).

I will never be like _____ or do what _____ did.”

“I will make others give me _____” (something I didn’t get) or “pay for _____” (something of my pain).

I will always be strong” (because I get in trouble for being weak).

I can’t cry” (because it shows I’m weak; so I can be accepted as ‘one of the guys’; it’s embarrassing…).

I won’t make mistakes” (because I get punished / humiliated / shamed when I do).

I will always do everything perfectly” (because it’s not ok to make a mistake!).

Can you hear the shame-based messages in those bold Inner Vow mantras?

Like a Poker player’s ‘tell,’ Inner Vows give themselves away  when you hear yourself or someone else making strong statements preceded with “I will never,” “I will always,” “I can’t,” “I won’t,” “I will…,” etc.

The sad and binding thing is, Inner Vows honor the lie. Whatever we have declared (vowed) we will never, always, will, won’t, can’t be or do – becomes a part of the fortress we erect to guard ourselves from pain. This.Does.Not.Work. Our heart still gets wounded in spite of our efforts to prevent it ever being hurt again.

But what does work are the powerful Inner Vows which, simply put, are another form of bitter roots. Command Central I.V. is like a slow drip in the background, governing how we think, act, and feel.

Before we know it, we have a stronghold of Inner Vows, with matching habits we use to fulfill them.

“I’ll just withdraw” may be fulfilled, for example, by refusal to talk when around others (shutting them out) or isolating oneself from others (which makes for a Lonely Heart Club of one member).

Whenever we rely on our own strength (especially through Inner Vows that are operating) we enter our own idol contest, believing we are the only one who can or should control our life. We enter into agreement with the enemy’s lie, which started with Eve of Eden (Genesis 3:4-5). We enter a prison of repeated attempts to control our life responses.

Pffffft. That’s like starring in Groundhog Day. Over and over…

***

Dear fortressed one, our flesh and our heart fails. How it fails. Yes, I know that’s hard to hear, especially if your Inner Vow of choice is to always do everything perfectly. But we are not left to ourselves, PTL!

God is the strength of our heart. (Psalm 73:26)

He is not a meany out to get us (as we may have vowed about mom or dad, a teacher, siblings or the school bullies), but He does require that we enter into true repentance because He knows it is powerful to the pulling down of the stronghold of the lie we entered into. (II Corinthians 10:4)

If it was easy to trade our self-reliance for His strength, we’d be all over it. Be encouraged though, for that which does not come easily does bring breakthrough when we choose to recognize, confess, repent, renounce the lies, and rely on God to strengthen and govern our heart.

There’s more to consider regarding Inner Vows. For now, I’ll leave you with a point to ponder:

Can you think of times you protected your heart from hurt /pain by making a ‘promise’ to yourself? Write down those “I will never,” “I will always,” etc. Inner Vows.

Let’s pray: “Father God, I confess that I often default to relying on my flesh and heart, which proves to be frail and overwhelmed and still gets hurt. Teach me, show me, invite me, love me into turning to You over and over again, until practice works within me the habit of relying on You, the only true strength of my heart. Holy Spirit, guide me into all truth (John 16:13), freeing me from Satan’s lies.” Amen.

Hoping to SEE you next month at Whatever Girls Live – with mug in hand!

Nanc

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography/Freedigitalphotos.net

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A Letter to my Child

By Erin Bishop

I recently read a beautiful letter a mother wrote for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday. It was moving and soul bearing and tender, fun and funny. There was a lot of special love between that mom and her girl-I could tell.

I’m a big fan of not leaving things unsaid and legacy building. This letter accomplished both. The mother left no doubt about how she felt about her daughter and she created a piece of family history for her daughter and generations to come.

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A letter to my child

In this letter, the mom shared stories about what life was like when she was expecting her little girl, details about the pregnancy, what it was like being a mommy to this new baby, and many other wonderful details about this little girl’s life and her family. Details she may have never known about had her mother not taken the time to document them.

The woman who wrote this letter shared with me that many of their friends who have read this letter have been touched by the words and the gesture, and want to know how to go about writing a letter for their children. Though the woman did a beautiful job on her letter, she doesn’t consider herself much of a writer, and she said neither do many of her friends who read the letter. “They don’t know where to start or what to say.” Well, to borrow from The Sound of Music, “Start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.”

Start with the facts:

  • Share details about your marriage-how you met, wedding date, place, ceremony details
  • When/how you found out you were expecting
  • Whether the pregnancy was expected
  • What the pregnancy was like
  • Whether or not you knew your baby’s gender before birth
  • Details about getting the nursery ready
  • Registering for your baby gifts/the baby shower(s)
  • Thoughts and feelings about becoming a mom or dad
  • Family’s reaction to the news of the pregnancy
  • Details about date of birth: hospital, length of labor, tell about the weather, what was going on in the world that day, who came to visit, who held baby first, going home from the hospital
  • Baby’s first week, months, years: talk about anything that comes to mind
  • Childhood: where you lived, who their friends were/are, sport activities
  • Words your child pronounced in a special way that always made you smile or laugh
  • Get creative…you can cover a lot in this section. Feel free to get the baby book out. (Hopefully you got farther along in the documenting than I did.)

Share anecdotes:

Everyone loves a story-especially about him or herself. This past summer I spent a week with my aunts at the lake and just two weeks ago, the better part of a week in a hospital room with my grandparents and several family members. Listening to story after story from aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandparents was wonderful. No matter how insignificant the story or detail may seem to you, it may not be to the person hearing the story. My late 91-year-old Grandpa told me this past Thanksgiving that he deeply regretted not asking his parents more questions. There are so many things he wished he had answers to.

Share memories: Think about some special traditions, jokes, sayings and memories that mean a lot to you and then write them down.

Share your feelings: This is a big one. Don’t ever let your son or daughter question how you felt about them. Tell them and tell them (and show) often. It doesn’t have to be fancy or poetic, just speak from the heart.

What do you love most about them? I love watching my son experience things for the first time. His eyes dance when he laughs and he has the cutest little boy laugh. I love staring at his freckles and eye lashes. I love how my daughter is so comfortable in her own skin and so loyal to those she loves. I love her freckles, too. I always tell my kids “I love you to the moon and back, infinity”. These are things you want to write down so one day when they are away at college or newly married, or when you’re gone…they will have this letter to read when they are missing you and your words and feelings of love for them will come back and fill them up, just like when they were kids.

Impart life lessons and values: Have you learned an important lesson or have some special wisdom or values you want to pass on to your child, or be remembered by? Include them here.

Tie it together: Now that you have some facts, anecdotes, memories, feelings and lessons, tie everything together in a story. Start from the beginning and add in the details.

Not much of a writer? Don’t let that discourage you. Use your own voice and keep writing and polishing until it sounds good to you. The thought, effort and time you put into your letter is the gift. A gift that will be prized above all others.

My daughter, Grace, will be 16 on April 22nd. Come back to the Whatever Girls that day to read my letter to Grace.

This article is dedicated to Kristin and Rylee.

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When Your Daughter Chooses Her Friends Over You

When Your Daughter Chooses Her Friends Over You

By Angie Ryg

I guess I thought our relationship was different.

As I sit here writing this, my daughter is downstairs meeting a friend in the lobby at a hotel.  We are away for the weekend at a basketball tournament.  My sons are in the pool playing with Daddy and I was going to hang out with my daughter for a little while, but she told me she had already made plans to meet her teammate in the lobby to chat.

I remember when she used to chat with me.

I remember when she used to want to go swimming in the pool with Daddy.

I remember when she used to want to go to the mall with me.

I remember because it was not that long ago.

Now, before I paint a weepy picture of teenage years, let me tell you that my daughter would happily go to the mall with me – especially if I am buying!

We have a close relationship, so I just kind of assumed that since we did, I would always be the first person she needed.  I know it is important to be the mom first, and the friend second, but I guess I wanted both.

But a friend and a mother have two very different roles when you are a teenager. Friends give a girl a sense of belonging.  A sense of community.  A feeling that she is understood.  Mothers give a girl a sense of where she has come from.  The importance of being part of a family.  And the blessings of courage and wisdom.

Although she does still need me, she also needs her friends.  I am slowly realizing this is okay.  Mothering is a lifetime of letting go.  And with every step she takes, it is a step of me trusting Jesus to be in control.

Yet through these times of friends becoming more important, I still need to be available. I need to be ready to listen when my daughter wants to talk. I need to know when, “Let’s watch a movie together,” means, “I want to just sit close and be with you.”

Each of these is a deposit.  Deposits into making my daughter feel loved.  And those deposits teach her that a mother’s love will last. Friends will always be important, but after the trips to the malls are done, after the texting is turned off, my little girl will still want me to tuck her in at night.

Even in a hotel.

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Daring to be Truthful (part 2)

By Shannon Ethridge

Daring to be Truthful (part 1)

Last time we described the battles that several young women have faced, and now I’d like to tell you a little bit about my own sexual and emotional battle…

If anyone had asked me when I was twelve if I wanted to remain a virgin until marriage, I would have said, “Of course I do!”

At thirteen, I would have said, “I think so.”

By fourteen, I would have replied, “Maybe.”

At age fifteen, my response would have been, “I don’t see how that is possible.” Unfortunately, my innocence became just a memory that year. I was coerced into sex by an eighteen-year-old boy that I had just met, and I mistakenly said nothing to my parents. Because I kept this secret, no one helped me heal from the abuse.

A few months later, my parents allowed me to begin dating. Because I believed that my virginity had already been stolen from me, I didn’t feel I had a reason to withhold my body from most of the young men I dated. Sex became a routine part of my romantic relationships—the price that I felt I must pay for the attention and affection that I craved.

No Exemptions from Sexual Temptation

As you read about the darker side of my younger days, you might think I was a messed-up girl from a dysfunctional home and a bad neighborhood, or that I wasn’t a Christian, or that I wasn’t too smart.

Wrong.

I grew up in rural Northeast Texas with educated, middle-class parents who were faithfully married to each other. My family lived in a modest home in the country where safety was never an issue. Mother took me to church regularly, and I confirmed my belief in Jesus Christ at the age of twelve. I even served as president of my youth group for several years. I got straight As in high school and went on to graduate from college.

As my life shows, you don’t have to be messed up or even come from a messed up family to make irresponsible decisions that will mess up your life. Not even “good Christian girls” are exempt from sexual temptations. Not even you.

Are YOU Engaged in a Secret Battle?

If you’re ready to face the intensity of your own private sexual or emotional war, answer yes or no to the following questions.

1.   Do you watch television shows or movies with sexual jokes or graphic sex scenes?

2.   Does the music you listen to talk blatantly of sexual desires outside of marriage?

3.   Do you ever act overly friendly or seductively to get a guy’s attention?

4.   Do thoughts of having or keeping a boyfriend consume your mind to the point that you find it difficult to concentrate on anything else for any length of time?

5.   Are you looking for or entertaining the idea of a serious romantic relationship even though it will be several years before you are ready to get married?

6.   Do you consider certain sexual activities okay simply because they won’t result in pregnancy?

7.   Do you feel that your virginity has already been stolen from you?

8.   Do you feel as if you are “damaged goods” that a “respectable guy” wouldn’t want?

9.   Do you believe it is ever okay for a couple to live together even though they are not married?

10.   Do you believe it is ever okay for a couple to have sex before marriage?

11.   Have you ever lied to your parents about where you were going or whom you were with because you knew they wouldn’t approve if you told the truth?

12.   Would you lie to your parents in order to go out with a particular guy you liked a lot if you knew you could get away with it?

13.   Have you ever made out with a guy just because it seemed like the thing to do?

14.   Are you anxious to get out from under the control of your parents and gain your freedom to pursue any relationship you want?

15.   Do you go into Web sites or chat rooms that you know your parents would not approve of?

16.   Have you ever given your phone number or physical address to a stranger you were flirting with over the Internet without your parents’ knowledge?

17.   Have you set rules or guidelines for your behavior or your relationships that you’ve already broken?

18.   Do you hide certain things, such as steamy love letters or magazines, or do you have to erase your computer’s browsing history?

Whether you are just entering puberty and new to this struggle or an experienced young adult, you can design a rock-solid defense to avoid becoming a casualty of this war. Whether you are sexually pure, hanging on to your virginity by a thread, or currently fooling around with a boy, you can maintain and/or reclaim your sexual integrity not just throughout your youth, but throughout your whole life. By learning to guard your mind, heart, and body against sexual compromise and understanding God’s plan for your sexual and emotional fulfillment, you can maneuver your way through your teenage years with grace…and without regrets.

Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s BattleEvery Young Woman’s Battle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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