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I’m so Pretty

Recently I was listening to “Betcha Gon’ Know” by Mariah Carey. It was the version that features R. Kelly. It made me think about how R. Kelly is now known for abusing women and how many were pushing for the mute R. Kelly movement, among other celebrities that are outed as abusers or pedophiles. I see why people want to shame these people and want to take away their star power. However, there are abusers all around us. There’s millions probably billions of people that abuse other people but we are only aware of the cases that make the headlines, nationally or locally. If we knew what literally everyone was up to in their spare time no one would be allowed to do anything in the court of public opinion. It seems that we have entered a new era in history. Pedophilia and abuse against women in general is taken more seriously in some ways. Despite the “anything goes” culture, the “consent” culture, there seems to be thirst to know the truth even about our supposed heroes or favorite celebrities. I cannot emphasize enough though that it shouldn’t surprise you that the World is busy being the World. That is, if you’re a Christ follower.

In Genesis 6:9, the Bible tells us that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” He [and his immediate family] was the only one selected to survive the Great Flood. Literally, no one else.

As far as God was concerned, the Earth had become a sewer; there was violence everywhere. God took one look and saw how bad it was, everyone corrupt and corrupting—life itself corrupt to the core. Genesis 6:11-12 MSG

Further in Genesis 18, the Bible tells us that Abraham interceded for the town of Sodom. He asked if God would spare the city if fifty righteous people are found and God said he would. However, I think Abraham knew there wasn’t fifty righteous people so he kept bargaining for less. He stops at ten. He asks God if he would spare the city if there are ten righteous people found and God gives His word, “for the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” We read just one chapter later that God did not find ten righteous and only allowed Lot, his wife and two daughters to flee as God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from Heaven. Out of the four fleeing, three made it to the next town.

Skipping ahead to the book of Daniel, we learn about a young man named Daniel that was trafficked to Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar took over Jerusalem. Daniel became known for maintaining his purity in the midst of the Babylonian culture. Daniel refrained from the foods and drinks they served as to not defile himself. God gave him favor and Daniel was allowed to not partake in the lifestyle. Daniel continued to see favor throughout his life while living in a different kingdom.

Just as in the times of Noah, Lot and Daniel- these men were counter-cultural. Within their generations and throughout history, their names and stories were written down to be known forever for their righteousness. These are just three examples, but three out of the billions of people that have gone to the grave before us and will go after us… THREE stands out to me.

We are living in modern day Babylon or Sodom or Gomorrah. These cities are basically cliché in 2019. But if you are a Bible reader, you need to acknowledge the time in which we live. Our culture is a secular one. Our country didn’t begin that way but as history repeats itself, Secular is what we have turned into. That is why there is so much hostility towards the Christian life. Real Christians standing for Biblical Truth in the Post Modern Culture.

You’re probably wondering when I’m going to explain how I’m so pretty and what that has to do with R. Kelly, historical and biblical references.

[I apologize if you’ve lost interest already. Context is one of my top strengths and I feel compelled to give the context to help lead you from one idea to the next. It’s just how my mind works! ]

While we live in Babylon just as Daniel did, we are called to stand out. We are not to participate in everything that the opposing culture offers. Daniel could have forgot his identity and dismissed his God but he did not. He could have sold out to the dominate culture, a foreign culture. Time and time again God warned his people to not worship other gods or idols. To not become like those around them. In the Old Testament, God very clearly gave those instructions repeatedly. In the New Testament, God gave us his only son to give us the grace that we might finally obey his commands. He allowed Jesus to come to love us by allowing us to see our hearts are knitted together with His. That we see ourselves and others with His gracious loving eyes. We have to distinguish what is the culture permit and what does God command? They should not be the same. We are to pursue Christ and aim to be Holy not assimilate to a culture that rebels and rallies against our God. It can feel uncomfortable but if our eyes are on eternity with Christ, saying no to permissive cultural practices should become easier over time.

Earlier that day I was running errands. I went to a Target for one thing. That one thing was not in the store so I decided to walk around a bit. Dangerous, I know! I walked through the women’s clothing, accessories, bedding, back through the accessories and women’s clothing. I tried on a lot of sunglasses and touched many handbags. I left the store only buying one t-shirt!

As I was driving away, I began to think about how much I desire to buy new clothing and accessories. How much I desire to join in the beauty and fashion trends taking place. How the pull of obtaining more clothes, more accessories, longer lashes, specific nude colored lipstick permeate my mind. I follow a lot of online boutiques on social media so I constantly see the clothes I don’t have and decide very often that I need thirty new tops every month. Social media is now interwoven with ads of all types. These ads are catered specifically for you through algorithms. Its easy to get caught up in striving to look a certain way or follow current trends.

I often feel I need to be prettier. Prettier and prettier. I have to achieve more as far as appearance. I have to improve my appearance. I have to aim to look better than I do today. Its feels like a beating drum…. Prettier….prettier….prettier. A pounding drum.

For men, it could be you feel you need to make more money, improve your wages, get a bigger paycheck. More money…money….money. A pounding drum.

I then wondered what if I replaced that beating drum with the beating drum of God’s love? What if I put that appearance drum on mute. I believe I would hear the pounding drum of God’s fierce love. I Love You. I Love You. I Love You. DEEPER. FIERCER. That sound would be overwhelming and no other sound could replace it once I heard it truly.

It made me think of how I long for a husband. A husband that would take delight in me. That would be excited when I walked into a room. Or if I were doing something like the washing dishes a very mundane activity. My back is towards him as I zone out in the task before me. He, on the other hand, very much intently watching me. Radiating beautiful thoughts towards me.

So, if I take this vision and transplant it on the Lord…

Can I fully grasp how much he loves me already? How much it isn’t about my appearance? The clothes I wear, the makeup trends I choose to follow or reject, my hair style, my weight. When I catch a glimpse of myself in a reflective surface and instantaneously think “ugh,” when I don’t measure up to the standards I decided were important… NONE of these influence God’s love. God has been radiating beautiful thoughts on to me since before he knit me together in my mother’s womb. For every beat of “be prettier,” God beats “I LOVE YOU” louder, “I LOVE YOU DEEPER,” “I LOVE YOU FIERCER”….its a beat more steady and full than our own heartbeat. Its a rhythm with origins in Heaven that God gave us the grace to tune in to.

Havilah Cunnington posted this the other day on her Instagram. I thought it fit perfectly into the revelation I had.

Related Reading:

Sister, Your Worth is Not Found in Your Size

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Transformation

Save your Sorry- a true confession

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Save your sorry for some other girl. Save your sorry I don’t wana hear it. Maybe don’t do things that you will have to be sorry about.

After a guy would hurt me, I did not want to hear sorry. Don’t even apologize. You did what you did, there’s no room for you in my heart anymore. I’ve shut the door and locked it. Things will never be the same again. I know you now. You’re not who you said you were. You’re not who I believed you to be. You’re the opposite of all the good things I had liked about you. I must leave. I must stay away. “it’s too dangerous to be the vicinity of where you are.” You are dangerous to me now. I must protect myself. I must build walls higher and stronger. You will not hurt me again. This will not happen again. I will know next time. I will see the signs. I will stay away. I knew I didn’t need anyone anyway. I knew it would end up like this. I knew I’d be the one to hurt. They are all the same.
Proceed to the Bitterness Parade. The I Don’t Need a Man Clan. Omarion’s “Icebox” on repeat. Goes to closet. I’m going out. I’m going out tonight. Puts on short shorts, cutest top. I’m gona be the S***. I’ll show him. Puts on heels. He’ll see what he’s lost. He’ll see he is replaceable. Re-apply makeup. “Boys just come and go like seasons.” Mascara layer 1 &2. “You must not know ’bout me, I can have another you by tomorrow, so don’t you ever for a second get to thinkin.’” Mascara layers 3 &4. “The best way to get over someone old, is to get under someone new.” Apply glossiest lip gloss so it almost drips. “I’m single again, back on the prowl, I thought he was perfect, I don’t know how.” Head to the club. Bar. Party. After Party. Kickback. I need to find someone to make out with. I won’t do anything else.
Approached by a guy. Act like I don’t care. Tease him about something. Be flirty, coy, sarcastic, and maybe a bit mean. He wouldn’t know what to do with me if I was naked sitting on his lap! He’s not on my level. He had an umbrella in his drink! Are you serious? Like, if I wanted him, I’d have him. If I wanted him to come and talk to me, I woulda let him know. Like what makes you think you can just come up and talk to *me*? Yea I saw him lookin since I got here. LAME. Oh look at her. Honey, if I wanted your man, it would already done and happened.
That was me at 20…21….22….23…24? Those years are blurry ones. Dark club lights, tipsy walks to bathrooms, walks of shame, 3am tacos/breakfasts, intoxicated driving, and lots of “plans” gone awry. Regret. Some say they don’t have regrets because it was a lesson they learned, it lead them to where they are today, because it was once something they wanted. I do not feel the same. I have regrets. I have memories, that I wish I could go back in time and erase them from ever happening. I have memories that I hope others do not remember. Guys that I hope they don’t remember kissing me, touching my body, sleeping with me. I hope I have faded away that they wouldn’t recognize me on the street. Remembering such situations, makes me feel gross. I can’t believe I did some things I have done. It feels like so long ago, like someone else’s life. Like a story you heard one time from someone else. Like a movie you have seen once.
I began to show some growth though. Visualize that Keanu Reeves meme: So if no one is on my level, then that means I am alone, because there is no one on my level. I am on the level by myself. DEEP. Go ahead, laugh. Some scholars now say the brain doesn’t reach full development until age 25. So yea, that happened.
At about 25 I entered a serious relationship with someone. I moved cities and we lived together. I thought I was grown then. We played house and I’ll admit, I enjoyed certain aspects of it. Having someone to come home to after work. Having a man brush off snow from my car in the morning. Okay, maybe just two. It all came to end exactly to the day I had moved there the previous year. It ended in me crying. Me moving out. Me having to remain in that city because I was about to start my final class for my degree in two days. I wanted to jump in my car and come back Home. Circumstances wouldn’t permit me to do so. I had to tough it out.
[part of my testimony]
My mantra was “it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t want me, GOD wants me.” My feelings were hurt but I coped appropriately. I didn’t turn to alcohol, partying, depression, other guys like I had once envisioned if that day ever came. I worked, and studied night and day, walked a little over 3miles up to 5 days a week. I stayed in contact with supportive friends and family. My friends and family didn’t understand how I was doing so well in light of what had just happened. I didn’t quite understand either but I didn’t doubt it. I knew my proper place was not in that city, with that guy. God was calling me back home, to Omaha, to my family, to my friends, back to Life Church and onto another kind of life.
I have always believed in God, even as a child. I had always prayed to God and talked to Him. My faith in Him did get me through trying times as a young person. However I was not actively and outwardly pursuing God and being obedient to Him until 2012. That May, after participating in a 5k in Omaha with a close friend, we found ourselves at Life Church (at Westside). There the sermon was about letting go of the things God wants for you to let go of and trusting Him. It was compelling due to my current circumstances and at the alter call, a woman asked how she could pray for me. I told her to pray that I be able to make a certain decision when the time came and to not hesitate doing what I have to do. She prayed for me and I returned home (3 hours west of Omaha) later that day. Within 2 weeks my boyfriend and I dramatically confronted the crossroads we were at and it was very clear our relationship was over.

wpid-20141210_200108-1.jpg[From Wild at Heart by John Eldredge; God will shatter your false self, so that you may become who is designed you to be, for you to turn toward Him and nothing else]

As you know now, I have been on a long journey. It hasn’t always made sense and I couldn’t see in the dark. My eyes are open now and I no longer walk around blind. My heart is open and I do not refuse to love anyone. Even if you hurt me. I still care for you and pray for you. I have forgiven the guys that have hurt me and have received heart felt apologies from them through the years. You may be stuck in old patterns, old habits, addictions, unhealthy habits. You may be sick of the same outcomes, the same hurts. The same heartbreak just different faces to attach it to. You may think things aren’t so bad. Really examine your life. Are you accepting things just as they are because you don’t believe you are Worthy of more? Of a life better than one you are living now? I chose to follow God, and so many things changed. If you liked this story, there is a story waiting for you.  Jesus died so you don’t have to be chained to an old-outdated-broken version of yourself.
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Related: Invite More Love: http://youtu.be/LGVDYgUPqEI

http://en.gravatar.com/that1liana

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Q&A

Makeup, Sex & Clubs

This morning I read a blog post from Girl Defined. I decided to share it and answer their follow up questions.
http://www.girldefined.com/popular-lose-respect-girl

Are you enticed by the culture’s message to “flaunt what you’ve got”? If so, why?

Yes I am enticed. One day I was getting dressed for Sunday service. I had tried on a few different tops, changed my pants numerous times. There were clothes everywhere. I was late. AGAIN. I had finally came upon an outfit to which I said out loud “I look cute.” Then it hit me. I look cute for what? For church? To be seated for about an hour? I look cute to listen to the pastor preach a sermon? Why was the look I was going for “cute” or “attractive?” Why cant I leave my apartment until I look attractive?
Having a very large bust with a 4’11 frame is interesting to say the least. If I don’t look modest I look erotic. If I wore a turtle-neck I’d still feel exposed. As a teenager and younger adult, I did have guidelines on how much skin I allowed myself to bare. Now almost 30, I have commandments *no pun intended* I feel naked in a tank top, in shorts above the knee, in a swim suit. Being so clothed I have still had the eyes of men on me. While wearing denim capris and a polo shirt, a very macho male coworker’s eyes were all over my calves. He said “what do you call those?” Capris I answered back. He gave me googly eyes and a smile and said with authority, “YES. capris, I like those.” I consider that man a friend but with firm boundaries. He is definitely not at all a docile man born and raised in a different country, one that accepts hyper-masculinity. I just shook my head and realized I could wear layers and layers but I’m uniquely feminine. I do not welcome attention to my body and body parts anymore .I haven’t for a long time actually. I used to walk into a club or party and revel in the amount of eyes on me. I’d apply my lip gloss at the exact moment some lustful guy was in my line of sight. Being short, I had the advantage of the “looking up at you-bat my eyes-maybe you can see down my shirt” move. I thought I was a pro. A VIP of something. The attention fed my sultry ego. To walk into a room and automatically have all eyes on you feels a lot like power. Men reaching out to touch your hand or hip to get your attention as you walk by as if you don’t see them. That was a good feeling for a budding 20something girl. GIRL. Those *Johns* were never in it for the long haul. They wanted something seductive to make them feel like Men. The quickest way for a man to “feel like a man” is through sex. There were plenty of times it made me “feel like a woman.” To be wanted by a man, makes you feel like a woman. In a time where gender is seemingly negotiable, there’s something to be noted here. This powerful exchange between a man and woman (even if strangers or acquaintances) barely touches the surface of the Missing Part of our relationship with one another. If “flaunting” IT, got me closer to that powerful feeling,I did it.

In what ways are you tempted to “allure” guys with your beauty?
I’d like to say that I’m not tempted to allure a guy. I am tempted. Every once in a while I recall those times I mentioned above. In recent years I thought I still wanted that. But it’s not the same. The essence of that person is gone. She moved out and I haven’t seen her since. She took her pompous attitude with her too. I see magazines, online articles, internet memes that are straight to the point. With big long lashes, plump lips, long shaved legs, voluminous hair, and every list of so called “tips” to getting him to notice you. I’m tired of following lists. If he didn’t see me and walk up to me, speak words to my face, then I truly don’t care. I still require that my eye lash game be on point though. Guys remember eyes. Or so I read on the internet somewhere.

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Do you view modesty as a tool that places value on your most intimate parts?
I do view that modesty places value on my most intimate parts. When your body is exposed people feel comfortable to make comments regarding your body. Two years ago, a friend posted a picture of us from an event we attended. A “facebook friend” messaged me a very bold statement regarding my “bust” but he didn’t say bust he used a different word. Not disrespectful on its own, probably said by many 6th grade boys. I’m sure it was similar to a knee-jerk reaction to see something with his eyes and then let me know what he saw. I felt offended. His comment was out of line, unnecessary, unwanted. I know what every inch of my body looks like. I didn’t need him to send me an obnoxious message spotlighting my body parts. “Some things are needless to say”—I Said. He apologized. “I’m just a boob-guy.” NEEDLESS TO SAY. STOP. SAYING. THINGS. He made a few more intended apologetic sentences but I could tell his brain was functioning in a different capacity. The messages ended there. I realized again, modesty is for the best.
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Since your body is God’s temple, in what ways should you respect it?
I should respect by practicing modesty in how I dress and in my behaviors. I’m not wanting male attention towards my body parts but me as a whole. Me in my entirety. Men fall in love with their eyes, and their eyes are everywhere. Call me beautiful once, but do you KNOW if I’m beautiful? I’ve begun to divert attention away from outward beauty by saying “It’s just makeup” “It’s just Covergirl and Maybelline” “It’s just whitening strips” “It’s just shampoo and conditioner.” It gives suitors a quick LOL. You like what you see but would you like what you haven’t yet seen? My face with no makeup, my hair with no products, my body with no clothes? I don’t trust the average guy to answer me honestly. Everyone looks good in the dark at 2am. I have been respecting my body as God’s temple in that I no longer allow others to have access to it. There’s a cover charge and the Holy Spirit is the bouncer.image

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my mascara face & the photo I edited because “too much” was showing (2012)

http://en.gravatar.com/that1liana

Related Reading:

http://www.girldefined.com/clothes-on

http://www.girldefined.com/4-ways-raunch-culture-lying

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