Thursday, December 31, 2015

"A Year of Wanderlust...."

Dear Father,

  You are a mighty God, maker of all heaven and earth. It was You who formed me  in the womb, and gave me life. To serve and glorify You in everything that I say and do according to Your purpose.
 I love you, Abba. Help me to love you even more in the days ahead. Until you call me home, or Your Second Coming. Whichever comes first.

  Lord, I look back this past year, and I see where I've stumbled numerous times in my walk with You. Earlier this year, I was agnostic. I doubted You, and the truth that was there, even when I didn't realize it. I began to struggle with the faith I grew up with. It was like a wrestling match going on in me, grasping to know what was truth. There was a lot of prayers during that time, and along the way You've been gracious and merciful to me. When I wanted to walk away from the faith, You pulled me closer to You. When I finally realized that I couldn't handle life on my own, I came before You in full submission. "Lord, my life is not my own. Do with it as You please."
  From that moment on, it was a slow progress of growing in the knowledge of Your grace, and learning to walk again in the Spirit.

  My faith was rocky at certain points. Loving my enemies was tested, but Your loving hand guided me through it. Looking back, you truly are my rear guard. (Isaiah 52:12)
   Forgive me, O' Lord for my unbelief! Forgive me for not trying harder when I could have done better. Forgive me for not listening to wise counsel around me, or to You.
  In my awe toward You, I thank-you for Your mercy, kindness, love, grace, and everything else I didn't deserve. You truly are a gracious and forgiving God.

   There are a few words to describe this year; Travel, Beauty, and Faith (that is real).
Being at Peru, Colorado, and L'Abri helped mold me into the person I am today. I didn't even know at the beginning of 2015 that I would be traveling to these places, but yet it was to be Your will. Without those experiences in my life, I don't know where I would be spiritually right now. For that, I am eternally grateful to You.

   Lord, my only hope and prayer in my life is this: By the Holy Spirit's work in me, to show forth by demonstration in my life and work, the existence of the Living God.
    When I apply Christianity into reality, everything makes sense. You are real. Help me never to forget that.  My life is not my own. It is Yours. You do with it as You please. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Easter {2015}

  Time has flown by since my last personal post. Right now my life consists of work, upcoming schooling to be a CNA (maybe later an EMT), upcoming international and across the country trips (Peru and Colorado here I come!), and the in-between life. 
 Change was once a hard pill for me to swallow, but now, I look forward to it.
I pray I never grow up to be a stubborn, bull-headed person, unwilling to change or to be set in my ways. I want to be able to grow in my maturity and faith. If I should ever live to be old, I want to be able to adapt to every circumstance that life throws at me. In short, I want to be a godly woman after God's own heart.

Thank-you to everyone whose stuck around here for this long, and here's to Summer 2015.
 Bring it on!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

{Godly Beauty} Shannon Fitzgerald

  This my friends, is the last installment of the Godly Beauty series. It's been such an privelge to interview these godly women and I hope you've been encouraged by them. At the end of this post, there are links to all of the interviews, so if you wanna go back and read some of their answers you are more than welcome too. I hope to get a page set up soon, so you can find them easier. :) So without further ado, here's Shannon...

To me, Shannon is a "bosom friend and kindred spirit". <3 Her heart and wisdom shines beyond her years, and her words are inspiring to the soul.

                                              Shannon from Shannon Ashley Photography
photo credit: Jemmie Photography
What do you believe was God's purpose in creating you?
God's purpose in creating me... hmm. My flesh often wants the answer to sound like "Well, so that I can enjoy my life, living for my kingdom, and filling myself up with all that pleases me!" and I don't know how many times I catch myself living in that selfish way, sadly forgetting why the Lord God created me. I believe that the Lord's purpose in making a little, blue eyed, curly haired, Irish southern girl was to display His glory, to show the marvelous works of His mercy, and to proclaim His love to others through my life. And as I live that out, the greatest joy possible overwhelms my heart and life. 

How do you cope with body image? Who are some people (and Bible verses) that help you through it?

Its way too easy to become consumed with focusing on my body, especially in this age of strong social media influences. Everywhere I turn I see the beauty of others, the glory of others, and the self satisfaction which others possess. Unintentionally, I turn to look at myself and compare "my glory" to others, and thus become dissatisfied with the perfect way the Father created me. That "fearfully and wonderfully made" Scripture {Psalm 139:14} isn't really describing little ole me, or is it? Am I really supposed to put that truth into practice?!?! You better believe it. My focus is often diverted from advancing the Kingdom of God through my life and instead my priority is focused on me {I guess you're seeing a lot of my pride coming through now} and I become often totally absorbed in depending on myself, my looks, or my image, for my sufficiency and worth. But when I turn to the Scriptures, I see that the Lord created my body and called it "good" {Gen. 1:31}, that I was perfectly designed before I even drew a breath {Psalm 139:13-14}, and that I am no longer living for my selfish glory, but have become a temple of the living God {1 Cor. 6:19-20}. Knowing that the omnipotent Creator fashioned my body, called me to be His child, and then paid the price to redeem my body brings so much worth, so much value, and so much peace in my understanding of my body and the life I've been given.

What would you say to your younger self if you were going through this at a young age?

Embrace the beautiful person God has created you to be. I know we hear it a lot, and sometimes it can feel cliche, but seriously: You were created, not by chance, not by mistake, and not by careless fixing, but by the sovereign finger tips of the Creator. The One Who whispered and galaxies suddenly burst into being also designed you. And one day, when the earth fades, and we all stand before the King of glory, our mere bodies will be glorified into beings with unimaginable beauty and holiness. Everything else {profile photos, status, images, and material goals} will fade into nothing. Your beautiful soul though.... darling, that's gonna shine for eternity. Because of the immeasurable grace of God which redeemed you and made your sinful soul whiter than snow, your beauty will never fade. <3

What do you think Adam and Eve looked like?I believe Adam and Eve were created holy and beautiful, perfectly designed by the breath of God. They had the same being as us, men and women, and were given the ability and honor of walking with God in the garden. They were created "good" in the sight of the Lord and thus were beautifully designed to bring Him glory.

The Bible indicates about the body and soul. To which is most important?

Well, because our soul is the only part of us that is eternal, it takes first importance. Apart from the redeeming work of Christ in our hearts, our soul is a wretched and rebellious enemy of God. It was created beautiful and perfect, but because of our sinfulness, it now lives in complete rebellion to the King of Kings. Praise the Lord for His gift of salvation to us through Christ for the cleansing of our hearts, justifying us through His righteousness. He takes that which was broken and dead and made it beautiful and alive by His grace. I also believe that second to our soul is our body, which is created in the image of God and which is used as a temple of Christ while we live here on earth. Though the soul is what will last throughout eternity and the body only temporal, we must not neglect the value and the importance of using the body, which bears the image of God, to bring God glory.

How does your body reflect your soul?

My body, having been purchased by the redeeming blood of Christ, is no longer mine and no longer a slave to my former sinful passions. It is now a testimony of the work which God has done in my soul, and because of His grace, it is a "...vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the Master of the house, ready for every good work." {2 Timothy 2:21}. What I do with the outward actions of my body is a reflection of the convictions, beliefs, and identity of my soul.

How does the person's physical appearance manifest their soul?
The outward reflects the internal. Plain and simple. How you dress, what you do with your body, how you act, speak, and present yourself all reflects your heart. That's why God commands us so often in His Word to "...guard our heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." {Proverbs 4:23}. Because we are now slaves of righteousness and children of the Lord, we have the responsibility to represent our Master through our lives and bodies.

Should a Christian be concerned about their physical appearance?

We should be concerned, yes, but not obsessed with their appearance. We are a temple of the living God {2 Corinthians 6:16} and are called to present our lives, soul and body, as living sacrifices for Christ {Rom. 12:1}. 
This vessel which we have been given is a gift from the Lord, created in the likeness of God {Ephesians 4:24} and is to be treated as such. The Lord doesn't condone or call us to neglect the appearance or maintenance of our bodies. Looking at the virtuous woman described Proverbs 31, we see that "Strength and dignity are her clothing.."(vs.25), and that "...her clothing is fine linen and purple" (vs.22). Because we reflect the King of glory, our bodies are to reflect that glory while here on earth, and until we meet our Savior and are given new bodies which are perfect and holy.

How much time should you spend to keep your body in good shape?
It various from person to person... some need more time to invest in the specific body they have been given, while others can accomplish that with less effort or time. In order for me to properly prepare myself in the morning for a day of work, a half hour is perfect. For me to maintain a healthy weight, limberness, and positive well being, I need to workout several times a week. Whereas others might need more or less time to do both of those actions, I find that after putting the Lord and others first, I need to invest a good amount of time in keeping my body healthy and in shape.

Can one take concern for physical fitness to the point of idolatry?  What would be the indicators of this?
Yes and yes. I fall short of this a lot, and its amazing how easily idolatry can creep into my own heart. The first thing I have to ask myself is "For whose glory am I doing this?" Am I focusing on getting the best weight possible for my body so that I receive compliments, feel trendy, or have a sense of deeper value because I fit a certain social mold? In that case, I'm worshiping, exalting, and living for my selfish pleasures. I'm making an idol out of myself, and am worshiping the creature {heh, me.} instead of the Creator. But, if I focus on using this vessel for the good works prepared for me by the Lord, keeping it healthy and strong because it is His temple, and am striving to bring Him glory by enjoying the healthy life given to me, than I am bringing Him the glory in my desire for physical fitness. When I look at my body, and am tempted to think "Hey gorgeous.... look at what you've done for yourself!" I have to remember that everything in my life is a gift from God, healthiness included. {1 Corinthians 4:7}

When it comes to physical appearance who matters more; God or man? What difference should the answer to that question make to me?
If we do not have our hearts humbled before the Lord, washed by the redeeming blood of Christ, and walking in newness of life, than our outward appearance is the last thing with which we need to be concerned with. And if we do have all that and are professing believers, we must live a life fully surrendered, (heart, mind, and body) to Him. We can't profess to live a life as a son or daughter of the Lord and live our lives or wear our bodies as sons of the prince of this world. Man will fade. Man's cultures, ideals, opinions, and standards change. But the Word of God shall never fade, and thus living in total obedience to His commands is what we must focus on. Living like that, no longer enslaved by what man says or what society deems appropriate, makes us free to be who God created us to be and relieves the overwhelming fear, anxiety, and self centered living which comes from being consumed with man's word on our appearances. We find our value and security in the One who fashioned us before we were born... the One who called us, while we were filthy rags and rebellious children, and said "You are Mine", and the One whose love for us is unconditional and never fading. 

 What makes a girl or woman beautiful to you?
A beautiful woman is a lady who is filled with the fear and reverence of the Lord, marked by a gentle and humble spirit, and who's deepest longing and joy is to bring God glory through her life. Her beauty within is also reflected outward by the respect which she shows to her body, her desire to dress it appropriately and in a way that reflects purity as a vessel for the Lord. A beautiful woman is she who loves to lift up the name of Jesus in all that she does and who listens deeply, loves genuinely, and shares joyful of the grace of the Lord in her life.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Godly Beauty series: