Not Unredeemed

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Beauty Is

“I challenge you to post five pictures of yourself that you feel beautiful in and then nominate friends to do the same”. As my facebook news feed fills with women posting their pictures and asking their friends to do the same – I want to ask each women the same question: Why?

“Why do you feel beautiful in the photos you chose?”

Beauty in the outward form is something that shifts and changes for each person based on individual taste and creative expression, yet it is something we all feel. More than an individual view of perfection or a circumstance, beauty is a state of being and a feeling.

Beauty is realizing what “is”. What we really have in that moment. Beauty is the recognition of reality (what is) and embracing that – whatever it looks like. Beauty is hair that is finally cooperating, or it is wind blown madness – each moment beauty is found by embracing the experience of what we hold in our hands. They only time we can experience or feel beauty is in the present moment. We can remember how beautiful we’ve felt in past moments, and we can hope for beauty in the future, but the only time we can experience the freedom of beauty and feeling ‘enough’ is in the present moment we are in.

Tweet: Beauty is the recognition of reality (what is) and embracing that http://ctt.ec/Wte0Z+ @notunredeemed

Beauty is the recognition of reality (what is) and embracing that

I’ve dressed to the nines before and still wished for more and did not feel beautiful. I’ve also been 25 pounds heavier and walked with confidence and felt on top of the world. I love being and feeling beautiful because for me, beauty is a celebration of what the Lord has given me. It’s realizing what I have and being thankful for that – friends, family, time on the lake, messy hair, mud, good make up, a great dress or a dang good pair of heels.

Beauty has also meant a pile of snotty tissues for me in ugly moments of brokenness and surrender before the Lord. Beauty is realizing what is, and with that comes a rawness that spans intense joy and pain. Raw pain can be beautiful because it’s in those moments that we truly come to grips with our humanness and His magnificent grace. Jesus is “Immanuel, God with us” and “I AM, the present God”, its feeling His presence that makes pain beautiful. Sometimes beauty looks like tear streaks just as much as it does perfect mascara.

To be honest, when I was nominated to do the beauty challenge I didn’t want to. Most of the moments where I have felt truly beautiful, where not ones captured on film because I was experiencing them. I also didn’t want to dig though other pictures and remember the times when I’ve wished I could have been more ________ (fill in the blank). How sad is that? But it’s honest and raw – so in a way – beautiful. Because in the recognition of the lies I’ve believed about beauty (and myself), comes the freedom that truth brings when it confronts those lies.

The more I learn what beauty is and how to walk in it, the more thankful I become for truth. Part of recognizing beauty right now is going back and looking at the pictures I don’t like and thanking God that I was enough in all of them because He was enough. That’s the beautiful truth my friends.

I’ll post to the beauty challenge on Facebook not because it’s about me, but because it’s about realizing that Beauty is. Let’s celebrate what the Father has given us.

Beauty Is

Did you* join the beauty challenge? Why or why not?

~ Disclaimer, I have six photo’s in this collage and not five and I wanted to have  about 10 more pictures in here. After writing this blog I went through my photos to find pictures to post and found way more pictures that I felt beautiful in than I expected, after redefining what beauty was to me. Redefining Beauty is a process of recognizing the truth and I am overwhelmingly grateful for the beauty in my life that has been felt in moments of living in His presence and finding that there I am enough. ~

*Gentleman readers, while the challenge on facebook was directed towards the ladies, you posses not only an incredible eye for beauty, but a heart that is full of it as well. If you want to think about it (or comment on it) – What do you find beautiful, and why is it beautiful to you?


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Dear Faith {Letters From My Heart}

Dear Faith,

Yes. YOU are beautiful. You asked me recently if I thought you were pretty and I said yes. But I didn’t get to tell you why.

You are pretty, but you are also beautiful. Pretty has to do with the form of your face and the color of your hair – you are pretty!

Beauty is something a little more, it has to do with you as a person and it comes from the inside out. Every day I meet pretty people that are ugly and plain people who are beautiful.

You see, beauty has more to do with our state of being and less with a set of circumstances. Circumstances change – the cute jeans you just bought will be out of style next year. Beauty however never goes out of style. It is two things – a state of being and  a feeling.

Beauty in the eyes 1There’s an old phrase that says “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.  What it means is that I may think a geranium is beautiful but
you may not. So we naturally place the value or worth of the geranium on our own personal opinion of it, and it’s use to us.

This is the way our world and society view both “beautiful” and “pretty”. They are standards and measurements that will always change based on every. single. persons. different. opinion. This is how beauty becomes something subjective and circumstantial.

However, beauty always lies true in the eyes of the beholder who created it.

Psalms 50 tells us that He (The Lord) ‘shines forth from Zion perfect in beauty’. The Lord is perfectly beautiful and who was made in His image? You. You, Faith were made perfectly beautiful in His image. Genesis tells us that after the Lord God created us, He called His creation (You!) ‘good’. You know what ‘good’ means? Pleasing to the eye. And so once again beautiful. This is why beauty is a state of being. We were created beautiful and then called beautiful by the only One whose opinion really counts. The beauty He gave us changes only when it is marred by sin (that’s why pretty people are ugly). Even marred by sin, He still saw so much value and worth in us, that Jesus was sent to redeem us and make us beautiful once again.

Beauty is your state of being. It does not rest in the number of guys who do or don’t talk to you, it’s not valued in your grades at school or measured in the length of your hair. You are beautiful because you were created and called beautiful by the Author of beauty. People can say what they want, but I would trust the Expert.

Beauty is also a feeling. We both know that we can know in our heads that we are beautiful but we don’t ways feel beautiful. To be honest, the times I’ve felt the most beautiful was not when I’ve worn my prettiest dress or put on my make up just right. I feel the most beautiful when I am doing the things The Lord created me to do.

I’m sitting by a pond right now as I write you this letter. I’m hot and sweaty, and who knows where my make up went. But I feel beautiful. Why? Because I’m writing to you. The Lord made me to teach and to share about His love. It’s often after the longest hardest days I feel the most beautiful, for they are the days I have spent my all for Him. We feel beautiful when we do what He created us to do.

So what about all the make up and pretty clothes and hair styles?

Why I’m glad you asked! They are simply wonderful! When our outward get up is a celebration of the enjoyment of the beauty we have been given, getting dressed is fun! There is a big difference between adding to the beauty that is already there, and trying to create beauty. When we add to the beauty it’s a freeing celebration. Both a hoddie and a dress feel beautiful.

When we look to clothes or make up or the things we are a part of to satisfy us or make us feel beautiful, we will come up empty every time.   

Things aren’t supposed to make us feel beautiful, they are a way to celebrate the beauty we already have. <— Click to Tweet

When we let our circumstances, the scale, or fashion tell us we are pretty or beautiful their voices will be empty and fleeting. We can’t receive life and meaning from from things that do not have life.  Life is beautiful. And you have been given Life. So add to the beauty, but know that what you add does not determine your worth, value, or beauty.

Faith, you are pretty when your hair is in that adorable messy bun, and your trendy black rimmed glasses grace your nose, but you are also beautiful when you quietly serve the family and gently straighten up a room.

I want you to stop reading this letter and get up and go into the bathroom. Look into the mirror and pause.

No I mean it, go do it now before you continue reading.

You’re back? Good. The freckled girl you saw looking back at you IS BEAUTIFUL. Yes Faith you are pretty. And as you grow out of your teenage years into a women, I don’t doubt you will become even more pretty. But you are also beautiful. And not because I say you are. You are beautiful because you bear and reflect His image and He calls you beautiful.

Hear me again because we all need the reminder: You are beautiful.

 

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Pulling Back the Shades {A Book Review}

Spanning from the deep edges of black to the translucent edges of white are many shades of grey. Some hues are dark and easy to discern, others nearly white and invisible. As it is with grey, so it is with our sexuality. In their newest book, “Pulling Back the Shades; Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart,” Dr. Julie Slattery and Dannah Gresh address the spectrum of women’s sexual longings and why we have them.

Originally written as a rebuttal and answer to the popular series “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E L James, Pulling Back the Shades goes deeper and answers the question why women (Christian women too) are attracted to and reading the newly termed genre of “erotica” (romantic fantasy). Quickly becoming an emotional version of pornography, erotica’s lead seller, The Fifty Shades of Gray series has sold more than a million copies world wide. Pulling Back the Shades addresses why the series went viral, as well as why women are attracted to watching and reading romantic fantasy. The book also covers the positive and negative sides to erotica.

When I was given “Pulling Back the Shades” to review from Moody Publishers, I was excited as I respect both Gresh and Slattery’s work. When they decided to write a book together I was thrilled. Only I had never read the Fifty Shades of Gray series, so I wasn’t sure if the book would be interesting or apply to me at all.

 It did.

In deciding to write a book that would address the growing obsession for erotica, Gresh decided to not read the Fifty Shades of Gray series, while Slattery did. One of the reasons I really enjoyed the book was that both women brought two entirely different experiences and perspectives to the table. The book is written in alternating fonts as each woman shared her perspectives on the different issues they address. It’s probably one of the most balanced books that I’ve read that addresses a specific issue (Fifty Shades of Gray) and a general topic (erotica).

This book is a great resource for anyone wanting to be able to converse with fellow believers and the world on our sexuality. Erotica is a growing phenomenon within the church – witnessed by the number of Christian romance novels. Are these books wrong? Probably not in and of themselves, but why do we have the need to keep reading them? What drives our longings? Dannah and Julie take an honest, real approach to answering these questions and more.

 “The fantasy of erotica inspires one thing – the longing for more . . .You will never reach contentment reading something that is intended to make you long for more”. Pg. 36-37

Our longings were given to us for reasons, good, healthy reasons, but they won’t be satisfied in the pages of erotica, or viewed before us on a screen. Gresh and Slattery do an excellent job of addressing some of the dangers of erotica, while still conveying the excitement and joy of healthy, godly sexuality. This is not a “how to” or legalistic book that comes down on sexuality in any way. It’s balanced, thought provoking, and filled with grace. “Pulling Back the Shades” dives bravely and deeply into areas of a women’s heart that the church really needs to be talking about.

This book is for you if you:

  • Have read “Fifty Shades of Gray,
  • Are curious about cultural trends
  • Work with women and teen girls
  • Or you want to know more about your own longings.

If you have not read “Fifty Shades of Gray” like myself, or the co- author, Dannah, this book is still very applicable and challenging. We all have longings, but do we know why? Or know what to do with them? – Pick up a copy of “Pulling Back the Shades” and find out!

 

In Short Review: Dannah Gresh’s book “Get Lost – Your Guide to Finding True Love”, is a great practical, book that beautifully and tangibly looks at how to have our longings fulfilled in Christ. I would recommended it as a follow up to “Pulling Back the Shades” or “What are You Waiting For“. In short, Get Lost, is the practical application to Dannah’s other books! 


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Walled In

I heard nothing as I listened to him talk, or watched him walk around. That is - my spiritual ears heard nothing – nada. Silence to a discerning person is very eerie and unusual. It’s like the modem from your spirit to heaven stops sending and receiving data, and all connectivity ceases. I had become unplugged when around this person. Why?

Offense.

I was offended. And then I was offended to learn I was offended! Last summer the Lord took me on a very revealing growth journey with offense – what it was and how to deal with it. Although I’m a passionate person, I’m also very easy going, so I would never have thought of myself as someone who could be offended. I wasn’t bitter or angry with this person, but I was walled in around them.

Proverbs 18:19 says that:

A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

I always read that verse with the idea that if I had offended someone they would be harder to win back than getting into a walled city. Offense creates walls in both the offender and the offendee. I was the one that was walled into my frustration and distrust of this person. Offense had walled me in and shut off my spiritual gifts. I saw the person who had wronged me only for what they were not, rather than for who they could be, or were in Christ.

Offense takes on many forms and looks very differently in each person, but we are all exposed to opportunities to be offended every day. In Luke 18, Jesus even tells us that offense will come! So how do we respond when they do?

John Bevere wrote a book called The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense, and in it he walks through what offense is and how to handle it in a way that free’s both people. The Lord used this book to radically change my life last year, and I want to pass that opportunity onto someone else. I’m giving away a copy of The Bait of Satan, over at Kindred Grace. Will you join me over at Kindred Grace to win a copy of the book and read a short  review? Click here. The book give-a-way ends on Thursday 3.13.14 at Midnight.

 


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Validate Him

Just because you won’t date him, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t valiDATE him, honoring him in your heart and with your speech. <—- Click to Tweet. I’d be a millionaire if I got $1 for every time I’ve heard a girl say “there are just no good guys around here”. I used to say it myself until the day I saw the destruction it caused. Defeat, anger, and pain flashed across my friend’s face, as I watched him react to the knife this woman’s careless, lamenting words had driven through him.

He was a good guy, a godly guy, he just wasn’t her guy, nor did he want to be. At almost 27 and not dating, I’m aware of the dating issues in our culture caused by both men and women not stepping up. At the end of the day though, it doesn’t matter who is or isn’t stepping up, or if we feel there are no good “guys or gals” left around. Christ calls us to love and respect each other – in EVERY kind of relationship and interaction. Validate Him

We love, respect, honor, and are gentle with each other because we love Jesus and He loves us. That’s it. Honor, love and respect have little to do with other person’s merit. The way we treat each other should be based on the Kingdom of God, not on how we feel about the other person.

There are good guys out there. I’m honored to know quite a few of them. When a guy is told that there are “no good guys” left, it can crush their desire to become more of a godly man.  It dismisses who they are now, and the potential they have in Christ.*

Ladies, even if we never say “there are no good guys left” out loud, thinking it WILL effect the way we relate to the guys around us. Thinking there are no good guys left might seem like a natural response to hurt we have received, or to the lack of dating activity in our lives, but quite frankly, it’s sin.

This sin is something the Lord has convicted me so strongly of in the past few years. It’s sin, because it does not encourage or build up our brothers in Christ, and in our minds, it puts us as above the guys around us. We would be terribly hurt if our worthiness as a women or wife potential was constantly belittled to others. Scripture is clear about how we should treat each other:

encourage one another and build one another up…” 1 Thess. 5:11

Thinking there are no good guys left, keeps us seeing guys for what they are not, rather than who they are. They are redeemed sinners, loved, heirs of Christ – WITH US! Critiquing guys in general because we do not have one sets us in a place of judgment. To judge another man’s servant is not for us to do. If we know at least one Christian* guy, than there are good guys left.

I realize that when we as women, say that there “are no good guys left” what we are really trying to say is that we do not know anyone right now whom we would consider dating or marrying. Well that’s ok, because there are different stokes for different folks. There are a lot of good men, and we will most likely only marry one. So let’s honor all of them? Because the rest are other people’s future husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers. And most importantly, lets honor and validate them in our thoughts and speech because that is how Jesus does it. All of our relationships and interactions should be about one thing – The Kingdom of God.

For practical tips on how to validate the guys around us, continue reading
Continue reading


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The Most Important Thing About You

“Who is Jesus to you?”  The question of who Jesus is, without a doubt, is one of the most important questions ever to be asked. And who Jesus is personally to us, is a question that cuts through everything – sick kids, stressed lives, mental fog, complacency, self-focus, and pain. ‘Who is Jesus to you’ is a question that invites vulnerability and realness as it cuts to the core of what is really important. It cuts straight to reality – what really is.

Who Jesus is to us in the moment we answer that question, says more about us, what we are going through, and our spiritual state than hours of conversation could reveal.

Tozer, in The Pursuit of God states:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

Who Jesus is to us – to me and to you – reveals the basis of truth in our lives. It IS the most important thing about us.

Answering the question of who Jesus is to us, forces us to either:

-        Refocus and remember who He is (and that becomes a comfort in our present circumstances).

Or

-        Rejoice and spread the joy of where we are seeing Him move in our lives, and praise Him for who He is.

It’s a question you can’t go wrong with, and it breeds growth and community. As we grow in our understanding, knowledge, and love of God, who Jesus is to us will change with the season we are in. Sharing Jesus in us, cannot fail to encourage anyone hearing or responding to the question.

Tonight, after several weeks of not talking to my close friend Trina (who blogs over at trinaholden.com), I shot off a quick text to her asking her this question.

 Katie: “In one word, who is Jesus to you right now?”                                                                                              Trina: “Jesus is enough . . . Though Seth vomiting at dinner means I won’t get to go to church tomorrow. His grace covers even this”.

Her response not only reminded her of the Lord’s grace amidst vomit, it encouraged me to remember that Jesus was and is enough for things I’m dealing with too.

Who is Jesus to you

So friends. Pause. Today, right now.

Who is Jesus to you?

In this moment, when you hear His name, what is the first thing you think of about Him? Let that truth* penetrate your heart and the knowledge of it anchor your day.

Right now? Jesus is a Protective Warrior to me.

Who is He to you? I’d love to know and be encouraged by it. I would be honored if you shared it with me in the comments.

 *The truth in the answer to the question “who is Jesus to you?” has not always been pretty in my life. It’s ok, if it’s not in yours right now either. There has never been a more wonderful time than now to repentant and thank Him for revealing Himself to you.


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Perspectives on Longings

“A hope deferred makes a heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Psalm 13:12

In September, I wrote a blog series on Longings (view them here), and then shortly thereafter was asked to be a guest on the She Says podcast, to talk about longings. She Says is a once a month sermon length podcast  that one of my dear friends hosts. It’s a group of women who candidly talk through life and what the Lord is teaching them, topic by topic.  I was thrilled and terrified to be asked to join them. It was my first experience with podcasting (though I am serious sermon/podcast listener). The ladies have since asked me to be apart of the team, and it’s been a wonderful blessing to learn from them. I thought you may enjoy hearing their perspectives on longing as well. The podcast is a great wrap up to the series.

Listen here

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