Beautiful: My Story

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Thank you to “Photos by Heather”

By Taler Ray

Photo Credit: “Photos by Heather”

We all long to feel beautiful and somehow those 9 letters are the epitome of worth to most women around the world. Have you ever thought about how important—in essence—the word beautiful is? This word either empowers or destroys. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there, we probably all have and if we are honest we base our level of beauty and worth by what culture says. Today we have social media, magazines, commercials etc. to thank for “idols” that, clearly and visually, state how little our hearts and passions matter.  Because to the world we are how we look and the definition of who we are depends on it.  But friends….”beautiful” really isn’t an adjective that supports the noun. Being beautiful is a verb.

 

Beauty by social standard has destroyed the woman’s heart

and I am a victim. 

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Yes, I finally said it. I have been a victim of society and the media when it comes to feeling beautiful, but not until recently did I realize how deep these influences have affected my heart. For so many years I have tried to pretend I knew what it felt like to love myself, to feel completely confident and pretty—but I was so very wrong. My standards of beauty have been skewed by the world and the devil. He is always seeking to destroy. I have struggled with my weight and outer body image my whole life, but didn’t address it. Instead, I allowed the devil to capitalize on my insecurities; but worse, was the denial that covered them.

I neglected the aching in my heart to feel beautiful and shoved my insecurity to the depths of my soul, hoping no one would ever find it

But Jesus did. He found & revealed them. Jesus dug out my deepest insecurities and put them on display. Ultimately, he showed me what I failed to realize: that my struggle with being beautiful was keeping me from being the truest version he created. I had been lying to myself for years, but no more!

Being pre-diabetic since high school, I have never really been healthy. Losing weight was hard, no matter how healthy I ate. Returning from my first year of college heavier and more in denial than ever I was headed for type 2 diabetes, which is hereditary. I knew that I had to make a change, but I just felt trapped in these chains of self-pity, guilt and frustration. I started baby steps, took the advice of my dear friend Claire and started approaching exercise in a totally different way. As an act of worship. It was during one of my runs in early May that I finally surrendered my burden of self-image to Jesus. I surrendered the lies from Satan and culture. My chains were broken and I was set free through Jesus.

Being broken is not fun, and I am slowly beginning to be made “WHOLE” in the Lord. For so many years I had failed to understand that my body is a temple and when I neglect it, I neglect my relationship with Jesus. Following Him means I must also honor my body; for if I do not I am dishonoring the Holy Spirit whom dwells within me. I’m learning that only when I surrender my flesh can I begin to be shaped into something new.  The new that is revealed through God’s glory and grace.

I love the message version of 1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20 which says

“Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.”

As I close, I can admit that for so long I let my insecurities and society define me as unworthy of being a beautiful creation. But through the convictions, trials and triumph I can hear the Creator whisper to me, saying:

Beloved, you are my masterpiece.”2014.08 Beautiful My Story pic 3

Choose to live life as a beautiful verb because we are not called to let others define our worth. We are called to live as he has defined us: beloved. 

In Christ Jesus,

Taler Ray

To read more of Taler’s awesome posts you can go to a New Adventure Each Day.  God has his hand on this young lady and I look forward to having her back again to share her wisdom.

Thank you to “Photos by Heather”  or on Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing to Your Daughter’s Heart

By Rick Johnson

Another effective communication form to connect with your daughter comes in the form of writing.  Writing is a very effective form of communication. Some people even grasp more information by seeing the message than they do by hearing it. Even if daughters are too young to read, they treasure notes and cards from daddy. Taking time out of your schedule to write to her shows your daughter that you are thinking about her even when she is not around. This is a yearning all females have—to be thought about in absentia.

Tips for Writing to Your Daughter

•    Write letters to each other—especially during times when communication is difficult.

•    Be open and honest—it’s often easier to write feelings than to say them.

•    Put a handwritten note in her lunch bag or backpack before school.

•    Send her cards in the mail (even if she still lives with you) for her birthday or other special dates. Take the time to write something from your heart. Remember that females actually believe the words printed on greeting cards.

•    Give her a hand-written invitation the next time you take her somewhere special.

•    Write down a list of all the things you like about her. Put a ribbon around it and give it to her for no reason.

I found letter writing to be a successful way to communicate with my daughter, especially when it was difficult to say things to her. Even short notes are very effective. Why do you think girls are always passing notes back and forth to one another? Well, I guess they used to—now they just text each other. But you get the point. In fact, if you are much more technically savvy than I am you might text her during the day just to let her know you are thinking about her. Text her a short quote of advice every day. She might think it’s corny, but I bet she’ll look forward to your message every day.

Teenage girls are also really good at listening to a portion of what you say and then rolling their eyes and shutting down, ignoring the rest of your message. A letter requires the reader to “listen” to everything you have to say without interrupting. It also takes out all the subtle non-verbal cues (facial expressions, voice inflections, and so forth) that might skew the content of your message. I found that when hormones were coursing through my daughter’s body, she just looked for excuses to argue or get upset. I could inadvertently distract her from the point of my message merely by the nuances in my voice or an unintentional “look” during a discussion. This, of course, allowed her the luxury of getting upset and stomping off instead of hearing my side of the issue. This is also a battle strategy that girls use in the war on parents. If they can get the emotional upper hand, they win the argument. It is also a form of control they can use to get what they want, or at least bend the discussion in the direction they want. By changing the discussion to an emotional plane, they garner control over it. Your challenge is to keep things logical and on task. Trust me on this—you are doomed to lose the upper hand if it devolves to an emotional debate.

But people cannot help but read what is written to them. The next time you get a card in the mail or someone hands you a note, try your best not to read it. You’ll be surprised at how difficult it is—your curiosity always gets the best of your will power! My daughter has kept nearly every letter I wrote her and has told me she still reads them frequently.

RickJohnson1aWrite your daughter a note the next time there is an important occasion or if you have something you want her to remember.  Just be sure to end it by telling her how much you love her.

 

Don’t forget the ABC’s

By Kim Chaffin

Looking back to when my kids were little, I remember one of the big milestones was hearing them successfully sing their ABC’s.  Oh how I loved the sounds of their sweet voices as they sang that song.

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I remember how important it seemed that they knew their alphabet before going into kindergarten.  Now that they have grown, I see there is something far more important that we need to teach our children than the standard ABC’s.

 

 

We need to be teaching our children the most important ABC’s.  The ABC’s of God.

At this point, you are probably wondering what I am talking about.  Let me explain…

A: Always remember to say your prayers.  Teaching our children the power of prayer is so important.  Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons they have.  Life is not always going to be easy and when we teach our children that they can find wisdom, strength and hope in prayer, you equip them with the means to withstand the storms of life. When we teach them to pray we give them a way to find the answers to some of the hardest questions they are sure to face.

B:Be thankful:  We live in a world that tells us we should want more things.  Like “things” are really the answer to happiness.  I heard one of my daughter’s friends say, after a mission to Nicaragua, that she watched a child play with a deflated soccer ball and a broken truck that he had found. What spoke to my daughter’s friend was the child’s happiness to just have something to play with.  We need to teach our children to be thankful for what really matters.  We need to teach them to give thanks for food in their stomachs, a roof over their heads, or that they have a single toy to play with. Teaching them to be thankful for friends, laughter, and whatever they have leads to a happy heart.

(The kids in Nicaragua)2014.08 The kids in Nicaragua branded

 

 

 

 

 

 

C: Christ is the ticket…..Christ is the truth, Christ is life, and Christ is love.  We need our children to understand the importance of a relationship with Him.  He is someone they can always count on.  They need to understand His forgiveness and how important they are to Him. We need to teach them that nothing the world offers will ever give them what Christ can give them.  If there is only one thing you give your children, give them a firm foundation in Christ!

A child who prays, who gives thanks and who is shown the importance of a relationship with Christ will have a much happier life.  As parents we need to spend more time teaching our children what really matters….

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When they learn the ABC’s of God, everything else falls into place.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 KJV

Rejoice always, (Always) pray continually, give thanks (Be thankful) in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (Christ is the ticket).

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

 

 

What if I can’t hear God?

2014.08 What if I can’t hear God brandedBy Ginger Ciminello

Dear Ginger,

How do I make a decision when it looks like both decisions are good options? I’m weighing both choices and I don’t think either of them are a “bad” or “disobedient” way to go. I’m trying to listen, but what if I don’t feel like I hear God?

Great question! True story: I don’t like making a choice when I don’t feel confident. I’m the person that doesn’t even like picking the restaurant. I’m not indecisive; I just don’t want to make the WRONG choice. I want everyone to be happy, and that includes my Heavenly Father.

So what happens when the choices become weightier than picking Italian food? Think about the importance of the sort of questions listed below.

How should I spend my summers?

How do I pick a school?

What should I major in?

What do I do with THE REST OF MY LIFE?

Should I move or stay?

Is this guy THE guy?

Do I stay in this job or look for another one?

Should I buy this house?

Each of these moments held (at least for me) a healthy dose of trepidation and a desire to know God’s will. I was desperate to discover EXACTLY what He wanted me to do.

My senior year of college I was tied up in worry knots. I kept asking that God would show me what to do after graduation. I felt like I had endless options, but I only wanted one… His best. So I made a plan. I wasn’t hearing God audibly, so I decided to take a lesson from Elijah. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah expects to find God in the storm, in the fire, and in the earthquake. Instead, God reveals Himself in a gentle whisper.

I wanted to hear that whisper so I did the only thing I knew to do. I quieted myself. I tried driving my car out into the middle of a field, opening the sunroof and gazing at the stars. I only heard the crickets and the sound of distant cars rumbling by on the highway. I tried going in my closet, opening my Bible, closing my eyes and pointing at random verses… but I didn’t really get an answer.

I even went to the building known as “The Quiet Place” on campus and locked myself in a room. I lay on the floor and tried to even quiet my breathing… but I only heard students working on a group project. I felt desperate. I had tears rolling down my face as I begged, “GOD, JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO!

I finally went and made an appointment with one of my favorite professors. Through tears, I explained to her my deep desire to know God’s will for my future. I listed all the reasons why He should tell me exactly which job to take: I could obey Him quickly, I could stop worrying about this, I could spend more time praying about other things, etc. When I finally stopped talking she met my gaze and asked, “But what takes more faith – an arrow that says “go right here” or taking steps each day to draw closer to Him? Your desire is to honor God with your heart, gifts, and talents. Where can you possibly end up in this world and not be able to do that?”

My tears stopped and my head cleared. Hebrews 11:1 became my mantra each day. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Is God able to tell us exactly where and when to go? Absolutely! The Bible shows us countless examples of Him guiding audibly. But does that mean He will speak to each of us that way in every situation? Probably not.

If your heart is leaning toward your Father and you desire to obey His given commands in the Bible, then step forward in faith even when you can’t see or hear His answer. You have the Holy Spirit inside of you and His Word to guide you: make a decision and go!

 

 

5 Truths for Raising Confident Girls in Today’s Culture

2014.08 5 Truths for Raising Confident Girls in Today's CultureBy Brenda Yoder

Another school year’s starting. As I look into the eyes of my ten to twelve year-old students, I see girls growing into who God’s created them to be. It’s an exciting time as they transition from childhood to adolescence, finding out who they are and who they’ll become.

How do you raise confident girls in today’s culture? How do girls develop a Christ-centered confidence that sustains them when others tell them what their identity and worth should be? Here are 5 truths girls (and women) need to know about developing confidence centered in Christ.

  1. There is nothing inferior about you because you’re a girl. You’ll hear comments that someone does something “like a girl.”It quietly says you’re less than your male siblings or classmates. You’re not. Your value is completely in who God has created you to be, not in what others think about your gender.
  2. If someone rejects you or doesn’t give you a chance because you’re a girl, don’t take it personally. It’s their problem, not yours. As much as the world tells you men and women have equality in the workforce, in society or in church, there are discrepancies. Don’t be discouraged or alarmed if you’re discriminated against because of your gender. It’s not God’s perfect plan. As you seek Him to open doors, His ways will prevail. Lean into God when people disappoint you. He cares about you.
  3. There’s a difference in having a confident appearance and being “hot. I won’t tell you beauty doesn’t matter in middle and high school because it’s part of life’s game. So find your style and what you feel comfortable wearing and wear it with confidence – this makes you attractive and beautiful.
  4. Boys may be intimidated by confident girls, but don’t change who you are because of it. It’s just the way it is, but it’s not God’s design.
  5. Jesus wants to be your first love before a boy, husband, or anyone else. As you get to know Christ intimately and how crazy He is about you, your confidence will be rooted in Him. Confidence doesn’t come in performing or doing good things, but in resting in how much He loves you. As you learn to love Jesus first, the other things in your life will fall into place and you’ll be free from insecurities that pull you down.

Jesus loves you immensely. He is lover of your soul and is crazy about you. That’s a confidence you won’t find anywhere else.

What have you struggled with in developing confidence as a teen girl or mom? How have you overcome obstacles? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Brenda YoderBroken and Beautiful: Brenda has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a BA in Education. As a Parent, Counselor and Educator her ministry is helping moms and daughters navigate the tough stuff of life. Have a question for Brenda? Email her at [email protected]

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