Tag Archives: faith

When God says “No!” Is It a Gift in Disguise?

The word NO in a gift box

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back, I’m dumbfounded. How did I miss the seventy times seven flashing neon “good choice” doors? Choosing instead the door down the long hall with the sign reading: You Know Better. I’m grateful for all the times God waited patiently while I collected consequences from behind the “bad choice” doors. Those lessons, greatly improved my choosing skills.

Contrarily, what about the times when God bolts a door shut? No matter how hard you pull or twist the knob, it won’t open. It’s stuck, bound with spiritual duct tape. We have free will to do what we please, pound our head against the wall as often as we like. I’m talking about the times when HE intervened, protecting me from the scariest monster of all… self. Continue reading When God says “No!” Is It a Gift in Disguise?

Do You Act Like a Child of the Most High King?

Royal children of God

Recently, I watched the movie, Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco. Kelly holds a special place in my memory. Although too young in 1956 to see the live footage of the royal marriage to Prince Rainier, I do remember the replays, from our 21 inch, Magnavox black and white television console. For me, mom, and all America, it felt like a member of our family received a crown, giving us a shirt tail foot in the door, if we happen by the palace someday.

The movie didn’t live up to my black and white childhood memories of a handsome, fairy tale prince, driving his Rolls Royce up to St Nicholas Cathedral, to wed his bride. Or the vision of Grace Kelly in her flowing gown, made from 300 yards of lace and 150 yards of silk. Nevertheless, the story, confessing to be fiction based on true events, left me thinking.

1956 royal wedding scene with Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly at the altar.
1956 royal wedding – Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly

Kelly spent years learning to be a princess. She practiced the royal walk, talk and demeanor. Eventually she mastered the expectation to “become” what royalty stands for. To “be” the Princess of Monaco, inside and out. She sacrificed her acting career, studied the French language, mannerisms and history.

Princess Grace of Monaco in crown
Princess Grace of Monaco

She owned the tiara.  

Watching her “become” royalty, my emotions stirred with possibility. Pausing the movie, I practiced the princess effortless glide to the kitchen, to make a cup of tea.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong?” my husband asked, walking impatiently behind me.

“I’m practicing walking like a princess… oh, never mind.”

Then, the thought occurred.

I am the daughter of the Most High King. Seriously, I really am the daughter of the King. It’s not a Christian Hallmark card saying we chant behind closed door prayer groups or churchy ice cream socials. I AM the daughter of the Most High King!

Whoa… hang on…

So are you.

We are royal children whose Father is all powerful, almighty, majestic, not just in essence, but in being.

What does that mean?

Shameful first thoughts of royalty reek of privilege and triviality. A palace, or maybe two, a throne, a gaggle of giggling maidens who think I’m cool, and cater to my needs… oh and maybe one of those glittering sticks, you know a wand. Or are those just for fairy godmothers and tooth fairies?

Stop!

That’s not what it means to be the child of the Most High King. Like Kelly, I must learn. But unlike the princess, I don’t have teachers, trainers and coaches committed to molding me into nobility. She studied. There were instruction books. Oh, wait… there is a book… the book… the Bible. A collection of 66 books, written by 40 authors. The word of God. His mandate of “how to.” Not how to earn the position, Jesus paid for and reserved it for us. I don’t know about you, (actually, I suspect I do), but I do know I do not “own” the daughter of The Most High King title.

What would that look like?

According to our King, royal children dispense love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

And, there’s nothing that would lead us to believe we are better than our brothers and sisters.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3 (NIV).

Or less than…

 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Do I act like the child of a king? I know sometimes I act like a spoiled child of an earthly king… stomping my foot when I don’t get my way. But do I act like the daughter of the Most High King of kings, Lord of lords?

Not so much… sometimes… not enough.

I know I am a muched loved child of God, His daughter, a princess. Yet, to “become” what the crown stands for, I must train and practice. Without much thought, I found three major areas of princesstude I’d like to improve upon. I choose to work on these because I love my Father and my royal siblings.

First – Royal children know who their Father is, resting in His name. It doesn’t get any better than knowing your Dad tops all, and then some. No more lashing out at self with insults disappointment, and unattainable agendas. My Father loves me, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Second – My brothers and sisters are sons and daughters of the Most High King too. Even Sister So and So who looks down her nose and her Brother Knows It All. No more bad mouthing others for not living up to my expectations. Our Father loves them, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Third – Royalty serves outside of the palace. As a royal princess, I am a servant with a cause much bigger than my own yard. My siblings are my family, my heart. Together we can be about our Father’s work. No more going it alone. I need my family.

So Lord, my wondrous Father, whom I love. I pray that without the aid of an earthly crown and scepter, I can be a pleasing daughter, princess, child of The Most High King.

Amen.

Forgiving the Naked Lady Tattoo and the False Teeth Abandoned in a Tuna Sandwich

forgiveness quotation quoteMy childhood nemesis: Roberta Sherard.

She flaunted perfection, from the house next door to mine, twirling polished pirouettes, a blonde ponytail floating in slow motion behind her. I tried to keep up, spinning and stumbling, bedecked with scabbed knobby knees, red hair doomed to frizz, by a Tony home permanent gone awry. Roberta spoke softly, poise oozing out her pores, a finishing school graduate. I reeked of awkward, spewed hillbilly slang like Warshington, gonna, and I-dunno, and I carried the mantra, “Debbie, settle down.”

Roberta’s father wore a suit and tie, called her princess, bored my family with tales of her delight fulness. My dad yelled, wore Big Mac striped overalls, told me to pipe down.

“No man is gonna marry a girl with big feet,” he’d say, pointing a greasy truck driver finger at my bare feet.

I coveted Roberta’s family, but I loved mine.

The McFarland’s were not without charm. Summers we’d put on neighborhood shows, an amazing feat, performed completely without the benefit of talent. No musicians, singers, dancers or actors, just raw desire to be the center of attention, and the guts to charge for it… a silver quarter per show.

Saturday’s we ’d canvas the block passing out hand written invitations, for Sunday afternoon’s back yard performance. A typical show, featured my lip sync to Ricky Nelson’s Traveling Man, sister Nancy’s loud version of Peter, Paul and Mary’s Kumbaya, accompanied by imaginary guitar strumming, and our star, little Danny, singing most all the words of Sukiyaki, a Japanese pop song from the 1960s. We served popcorn and lemonade for a nickel, and gave away taffy, because we didn’t like it very much.

By midsummer our crowds always dwindled, leaving sticky face Johnny and his whining sister, Margaret, alone on the grandstand of grass. Unwillingly to fold up the makeshift floral sheet curtain, we spawned an idea for an act, no child of the 1960s could resist.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the dancing naked lady…”

naked lady tattoo US Navy
My dad’s genuine United States Navy tattoo.

Our risqué, bare bottomed star, a genuine United States Navy tattoo located on Dad’s forearm… and she could dance. Quarters jingled, filling the jar. We had it made. That is, until a power wielding censorship group of one, cancelled the dance, insisting Dad roll his sleeve back down. Mom never did have a sense for business.

One day, Roberta’s family packed their perfect possessions, and moved to a wonderland of princess worthy neighbors. Around this time, Dad’s toothless gums and the tattoo, turned from an attraction to an embarrassment. I grew to hate his stories, and loathe my one time heroine, the dancing naked lady. To my friends, NOT asking, he’d share the demise of his toothless grin.

“I left my teeth at a café’ on highway 99, stuck in a tuna sandwich.”

Thanks for sharing Dad.

Resentment seeded, bitterness took root. Like many families walking the tightrope between alcoholism and recreational use abuse… stuff happened… words carelessly tossed, lies slung, shame spilled, fists bristled.

When I looked at my dad, I saw nothing… except who he was not. The dad I loved for his loud voice, silly jokes and Popeye grin, disappeared. I forgot the man who provided for his family, fudged paperwork miles, enabling longer shifts. The good forgotten, leaving only the bad to define; a man who hurt the ones he loved with neglect and fists.

Over time, the naked lady tattoo shriveled and sagged. Her one time peppy, flirty dance, was at best, a sluggish, sway. Our relationship deteriorated, along with the tattoo. Bitter years of forgiveness proved too much to carry, spilling over, slopping onto my other relationships; husband, children, friends, co-workers, even strangers.

Alas, God moves ever forward, albeit seemingly behind the scenes, but oh so powerful! In His perfect timing, knowing the moment my heart reached ideal compliance, help came knocking in the form of a class called Surrendered Hearts. There I struggled, alongside three other women, clinging to ancient justifications for stacks of resentments. I listened… they listened… to tales of rage… to pent up screams. We cried.

For me, graduation meant forgiving my dad. I said the words, sincerely wanting to mean them. I forgive you Dad. I forgive what you did and what you did not. I mourned the dad I thought I wanted. I thanked Jesus for forgiving my judgments and bitter vows.

Shortly after the class completion, my mother died. That meant spending time with Dad. I wanted to be a good daughter, a comfort for my dad. My willingness to forgive, bought some patience, but not enough. Daily, I spent hours on the phone, listening to him complain. Nightly, I begged God to help me forgive him. Each day a clean slate, ending, soiled with new found rage for his latest rant attempting to justify wrongs done to my mom and siblings. If he’d just keep his mouth shut, maybe I could actually forgive him.

I don’t know how or when God removed the stain from my heart. I didn’t notice it getting lighter or less. One day, on the phone with him, I realized I cared. I felt love for the man he was, right then and there. The dad, the man with skin. While he talked on about what a good guy he was, God flipped the forgiveness switch in my heart. At least, that’s the best explanation I have.

More years passed, at least once a year he nearly died, springing back each time leaving the doctors shaking their heads in wonder. Driving his scooter, oxygen tank at his side, dad pressed on, losing the family home to gambling, nearly blowing his face off smoking Chesterfield’s while hooked to the oxygen tank, and getting slugged by a miscellaneous woman he somehow offended. Same old dad, but something was different.

That would be me.

Forgiveness benefited me. I was free to love and care for Dad, AS IS. Did I condone his actions? No. Did he sometimes make me crazy? You bet. But I loved… I love… I love my dad.

At some point, he quit justifying wrongs and attempted to right what he could. He died, with the faithful naked lady tattoo, loved. He left this world broken, forgiving and forgiven. He left, a dad, I’m proud to say is mine.

 

Coming in 2016 – In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God

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Sample Chapter of our book

 

Billie Jean – A Testimony of Joy, Perseverance, Faith and Dance

A Christian woman worshipping the Lord, hands in air, in front of a stained glass window.

Meet my friend Billie Jean Newhall. She’s a walking, talking, dancing testimony to God’s amazing love. I double dog dare you to read her story and not fall in love with her.

Born a happy baby, with a perpetual smile, Billie Jean’s testimony begins as a memory given by her mother, Star.

“We lived next to a tiny country church. I was about two or three years old. I’d walk behind the preacher imitating him… back and forth. I loved it there. It was the place I felt love.”

Born in 1957, to her 15 year old mother, the first born of five children. Recently Billie Jean received a surprise phone call from her brother Teddie, (second born) who was adopted out at birth.

Smiling woman sitting in church. “He used the computer… found me and my brother Michael. My other brothers are gone. Johnny died as a baby, probably SIDS, but mom thought she was being punished for adopting out her first son. Kelly, jumped off a bridge in 2001.”

No matter what changes or hard times came her way, one constant remained… Billie Jean never stopped seeking God’s love. As a young girl she hung out in a friend’s book store, reading scripture. During this time, she surprised everyone, revealing one of the many gifts bestowed on her by God.

“When my friend at the bookstore asked me to write the scriptures down, she couldn’t believe that I remembered each one, word for word.”Woman with hope.

Still today people, like me, turn to Billie Jean if we’re stumbling to recite a verse correctly. Remembering scripture verbatim is an amazing skill, but when I asked her to name her best trait she said, “I love people.”

She’s right… as usual.

If you’re thinking she’s some “zippity-do-dah” phoney baloney, fake kind of lovey dovey person… you couldn’t be more wrong. She loves deeply, gives it away freely, whether family, friend or stranger.

I asked if she had a favorite scripture to which she belts out…

“ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9… God gave me that scripture when I needed it.”

The time of need she’s referring to was one of sexual assault and abuse. A scared teenager who needed the strength to speak out and stand up to a violent predator. Joshua 1:9 got her through that ordeal and has continued to serve as her personal encouragement from God.

Last August, Billie Jean faced the death of her dearly loved mother. Despite a flat tire in “the middle of nowhere,” her Uncle was able to drive 250 miles and back, uniting mother and daughter for a last visit.

Only God knew how much she needed this moment with her mom. Her last visit still hurt. Under the effects of morphine, Star had lashed out at Billie Jean, angry that she could not stay with her; an irrational, out of character attack leaving her confused and hurt.

“I was there with her when she died… the only one she’d let touch her. I rubbed her, patted her hand and asked. ‘Do you ‘ikes’ me mama?’ That’s what I used to say as a baby. She was thirsty… I’m the only one who could give her a drink.”Happy woman.

Later, feeling helpless, sitting in silence by the door, Billie Jean heard her mother’s voice.

“I know you’re there.”

It was a blip of a moment, but exactly what she needed to hear. As the closest family member, the life support decision fell on Billie Jean. After prayerful thought, she pressed close to her mom, whispering.

“I give you permission to go.”

With those words, came peace and her mother’s parting breaths.

Two months later, grief still raw, Billie Jean finds a lump on her right breast. The diagnosis is cancer, showing in her lymph nodes and bones as well. When asked what she’s learned through this, she assumes a natural pose, arms stretched out, palms up, stating.

“To rely completely on God.”

She admits to times when grief smothers her prayer voice, yet faith never wavering, she adamantly states, “God is with me through the hard times.” In a sweet session of worship, soaking in His presence, Billie Jean received an encouraging word from her Father.

“In the shelter of His wings.”

The exact words needed to carry on as she always has, relying on God. After a mastectomy and radiation therapy, she put her foot down, ordering her friends to…

“Stop talking about cancer!”Woman posing with attitude.

We were cramping her style. Getting in the way of the job God has called her to do… to be… the job of spreading joy. A job she aces. When we stopped bugging her about cancer, she became herself again. The dynamic woman ever ready with a dose of joy, a huge helping of love, a barrel of fun and more dance moves than Michael Jackson. Dancing to her name sake song, she pauses momentarily to say.

“I don’t’ dance exactly like Jackson…”

Maybe not, but this gals got rhythm. As one of her many friends, I can say to know her is to be blessed. God uses her to touch many lives. The employees at our local North Star Cancer center looked forward to her radiation treatments, and have since told her to come back anytime to visit.

“They loved my hugs,” she says, with a satisfied grin.Sweet faced woman.

God is with her, always, she knows that. Last week she ended up in the hospital suffering from dehydration, unable to focus.

“I wasn’t myself. I kept crying. I couldn’t pray, but I know God was listening to me anyway.”

Through this experience in the hospital, she received the gift of understanding… for a nagging hurt about her mother’s death. While sick, dehydrated, emotional, and disoriented, Billie Jean understood why her mom had lashed out at her.

“She wasn’t herself… it was the morphine… she was disoriented like me. Now I understand.”

She needed the experience to heal the hurt, lingering behind. No one knows what lies ahead, for Billie Jean, nor any of us. In the meantime, she’ll continue doing her favorite things; worshiping the Lord, dancing, preferably with flags and giving away hugs, smiles and encouragement to friends and strangers alike.

Again, her favorite scripture comes to mind. Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I hope you enjoyed hearing a small piece of Billie Jean’s story. We all have a story of God’s love for us. A story of yesterday, today and tomorrow. A work in progress that needs to be shared.

 

 

When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen. When God speaks…

God Speaks to Those who seek His wisdomWho remembers the 1970’s E.F. Hutton commercials? My favorite shows two men on a plane conversing across the aisle while disinterested bystanders sleep, read, gaze out the windows. That is, until the name E.F. Hutton drops, causing a collective hush, among the eager eavesdroppers. The ad ends with the famous, unforgettable tag line: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

What about when God speaks? Do we lean in, hand cupped over ear, holding our breath in anticipation of His words? Speaking personally, I can say He knows how to get my attention. I’m not talking about an audible voice booming down from heaven saying stuff like “Deb, stop that!… you know better.” No, that’s more likely my own busy-body mind intruding on my peace: named “guilt.” I’m referring to a distinct voice in my head, a message arriving in an envelope of peace, reassurance, and clarity. A voice heard through the ears of my heart… or the lips of a friend… quite possibly a stranger. A voice that’s visible, seen not heard, through the staggering power of the ocean, or the knee buckling tenderness of a child’s love. Scripture, previously known, now alive, renewed. Words on a page, a billboard, a T-shirt… highlighted, back-lit, subliminally underlined.

No matter what the medium, when God speaks, there’s no confusion of authorship. You know, that you know, that you know. You just do. Even so, it’s hard to grasp that God dropped everything to send me a seemingly trivial, but deeply intimate message. However, once we stop denying His signature on the message, the essence of His ever powerful love for us is boldly evident. Yes, our God is mighty, capable of whispering sweet nothings in our ears, all while moving mountains, healing the sick and charging command over legions of heavenly angels. Yes, He is an exquisite multi-tasker.

One clear example, occurred two years ago when my husband, Sandy attended a men’s retreat in Canby, Oregon. He kissed me goodbye, grumbling that he’d rather stay home. He left discouraged, disgruntled, dis-everything (not a word, I know). In his own words, the troublesome “dis” was, “I’m tired of asking God for direction and hearing nothing.”

For months, we, meaning me and our entire church body, had been praying for him to receive words and encouragement. Some of us might admit to growing weary of the redundant prayer. Yet, we all knew Sandy’s deep desire to hear from God, promised an answer.

“I try, but I don’t hear anything. God doesn’t speak to me,” he’d say in response to our “keep seeking nudges.”

Seated among the 300 or so men who’d travelled from Vineyard churches across the northwest, he regretted saying yes to the invitation. If he’d stayed home, he could be working on the never ending projects on his ever growing list of “to-dos.” Staying busy seems to dull the pain.

While tapping his foot, waiting out the remaining 10 minutes before “getting on with it,” two men approached.

“We felt like you might need prayer. What’s going on with you?”

Sandy shared his frustrations, a familiar script, flowing off his tongue like an old song, the melody being “I don’t think God hears me.”

The men listened, praying a facsimile of the prayers sent over the past months of discontent. The prayer ended, just as the worship service started. Through worship, Sandy continued praying, seeking, yet convinced it was a one-way communication.

“Please, Father… I want to know you.”

When the key note speaker began, Sandy chuckled sarcastically at the topic – “Receiving Words from God.” When the audience was asked to participate, he prepared to go through the motions, expecting that others would receive wondrous, life changing, intimate messages from God, as he wallowed, on an island of quiet nothingness.

“There are thousands of words floating around this room right now. Please turn to someone you don’t know and introduce yourself. Then let’s spend some quiet time asking God for a word for each other.”

“My name’s Sandy… nice to meet you.”

Shaking hands, the stranger stated his name, which Sandy instantly forgot.

During the five minutes of quiet, disguised as three days of noisy head clatter, Sandy tried, in vain, to hear from God. When the time was up, he shared what he calls, generic fortune cookie stuff, derived from his own head.

“Something good is going to happen… there’s going to be a change…”

When it was the other man’s turn, he looked blank, then said.

“Philip. Right? Your name is Philip. He knows your name. That’s what I felt God wanted you to know.”

There it was… in perfect timing. Weak kneed, laughing… crying… laughing… no doubt God speaks… no doubt God hears… no doubt God knows him by name. You see, there was no way the stranger could have known that Sandy’s real name is Philip. A name spared only for legal documents. A name God shared through a stranger, knowing Sandy would hear it, An undeniable message of the His love.

That night, a phone call interrupted my sleep.

“He knows me by name!”

“What? Who?”

“God knows my name is Philip! He knows me…”

He shared the story with me, pausing for frequent voice cracking breaks, his demeanor and mannerisms out of character… chatty, fired up, super charged. To this day, he shares this story with anyone who’ll listen, never able to say “He knows me by name,” without tears. He left home with an acute case of “diseverything,” returning a changed man.

I suspect God is speaking all the time, and we are the lackeys with plugged ears. He’s a gentleman, who won’t yell over the top of the other noise in our life, and doesn’t need to. He knows exactly what it will take to get our attention, being our Creator and all.

Before my mom died, in 2002, I sat with her every day in the hospital, reading the Bible aloud, praying her seemingly sleeping mind could hear God’s word. I begged God to give me a sign that she would be in heaven… at peace and free of pain. My expectations were that she would awaken and say something reassuring, like “Jesus told me to tell you, it’s all good, you can pray about other stuff now.” That didn’t happen. Instead, moments before mom died, my sister and I walked into her room, finding her wide awake, smiling, gazing straight ahead. Whatever she was looking at, was beyond our understanding. One thing was clear, Whomever she looked upon blinded her to all else, satisfied her every need and filled her with joy. Then, she left the room, or at least in spirit. The nurses told us we could stay with her as long as we wanted. But why? She left, leaving only the parcel she rented space in, behind.

That day, God spoke, giving me everything I needed to never doubt. Like Thomas, who needed to stick his finger in the hole in Jesus’ side, I needed to see Jesus through my mother’s eyes. Nothing else would have sufficed. He knows us well. Yes, indeed.

How Do You Choose A Church If You Don’t Know What You Believe?

Vineyard Christian Fellowship
Yakima Vineyard Christian Fellowship

While vacationing on the Oregon coast in the dearest cottage by the sea, we found ourselves with the dilemma of choosing a church for the fast approaching Sunday. Not wanting to drive out of town left three choices.

  1. Yachats Community Presbyterian Church preschurch

My personal top choice, based on the brochure that reads: “The Church of Agate Windows, ” not because Sandy thought it might be a Pizza Hut.

  1. Yachats Baptist Church bapchurch

Maybe a better choice since choosing a church for the building is rather lame. Then again, I have a tainted view of the Presbyterians, based on childhood profiling, gained from a few sporadic visits. I assumed they were cranky because they had to get all dressed up to sit still and quiet on hard, slick pews. I see from the sign reading: Come As You Are,” they’ve fixed that problem.

  1. Little Log Church and Museumlogchurch

The most intriguing choice, but there’s a slight glitch- they don’t actually have a service. It’s just to look at… hmmm… sort of like owning a Bible for display only.

Over the years, while away from home, we’ve crashed a few random churches, but we are far from experienced shoppers. Choosing a church for a single hit and run Sunday service is not a huge task, if you are strong in your doctrine and faith and believe God will be there, if you seek Him. Worse case scenario, you walk away grateful for the church back home. Contrarily, if you’re searching for a church to call home, you’d best put some thought into it.

I’m grateful for God’s hand in my church hunting expedition, which began with a list of six churches in Yakima, Washington, (our home town), recommended by various concerned friends over the years. It was some time in September 2001, before the collapse of the Twin Towers that brought hordes of new and returning temporary relief seekers to church. Keep in mind, at the time, I, like many who walk into our churches today, was ill equipped to know what I should be looking for. How do you know what doctrine to adopt if you’ve never read the instruction book? Maybe, like myself at the time, you weren’t even sure the Author existed? What then? I knew one thing only… I was hurt, broken, out of solutions and the only thing I hadn’t tried was church.

I entered the first church on my list, the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Yakima, donning my best “I’m invisible, better back off” suit of armor, slipping through the doors undetected. The building itself was my ideal, thus holding the number one place on the list. It was built in 1904 using huge impressive looking stones. Inside, under a domed ceiling the stained glass windows provide a kaleidoscopic light show of jade and gold dancing round the mahogany columns, beams and majestic 24 foot tall sliding doors.church4

That day I climbed the stairs to the balcony, studying the angelic crowd below, with their seemingly perfect lives, born into idealistic Christian homes that made the right decisions, day in, day out. I wondered if they could see or sense the mess of my past, and shuddered they might have some kind of religious telepathy, capable of hearing the non-pure thoughts renting space in my head. I was confident they wouldn’t have the nerve to throw me out, stone me or point fingers my way, mouths agape. I figured they must have been taught this behavior is considered poor etiquette in “Being a Good Christian 101.”

Fast forward 12 years. The second church on my list still has no check mark next to it. Much has changed, and I’ve learned a few things. One being that, the angelic looking people that first day had some messes for God to work on also. Another, being that although the building is worthy of awe, it’s what’s inside that counts, or rather who’s inside.

At the time of my first visit, Wayne Purdom was the pastor, whom later ushered my husband into the fold with his down to earth sincere concern and genuine interest in others. Four years later, God moved the gifted Purdom family cross state to plant a new church and bless others. That left us a church in a lurch. I had one foot readied for escape as I pictured some worn out constipated-looking guy alongside a screeching soprano “everything is hunky dory” type wife, abducting our cherished “come as you are” church family.

Much prayer and several months later, no one answered the call. With a tremendous team of church leaders, our church body suffered no neglect, but time was ticking with no potential candidates in sight. Then one Sunday, a surprise announcement was made… Jimmy John Morris, our talented worship leader, would be stepping up as senior pastor.

Honestly, we were concerned. He was a super guy, remarkably talented musician, devoted worship leader, and he was funny. Even so, he didn’t seem like an obvious shoe in for this position. We asked God to show us what He planned to do with this young man, but frankly, doubt is a noisy occupant, and neither of us could hear any kind of response. So, we made a pact with God and ourselves to stick it out and see if He would show us more than a great guy with a good sense of humor and a hillbilly name.

The following months, we sat stiff necked with arms crossed in a defensive pose, but we kept our promise to suit up and show up. Neither of us could say when or how it happened, but shortly after the initial shock, we recognized the man standing at our pulpit was undeniably anointed to pastor this church. We’re grateful God didn’t ask our advice, knowing who would best serve His church. Today we’re blessed with Jimmy John and his wife Donna, who vigilantly seek His guidance under the care and protection of the Holy Spirit. Whether enjoying a season of prosperity or one that appears hopeless, they practice the positioning statement on our Sunday program “Love God, Love ALL People.” A tall order for some of us… well at least it is for me. I know… I know… it should be easy, but our church is all about authenticity, so get over it.

It feels good knowing our home church, with our family of incredibles, is a safe haven with sound doctrine, an incubator for hurting souls not knowing what they need. Number two on our shopping list may never happen – so much for comparison shopping.

We still need to make a decision for this Sunday since we cannot drive 339 miles back to Yakima. For fun, we put the choices to a vote on Facebook. Phew… not the best idea I ever had. I didn’t mean for it to become a yay or nay on any given denomination. In retrospect, I see my error and apologize for the lack of thought given prior to posting the ballot. I don’t regret what I learned from this.

Whether a mature Christian ready for solid food or an infant needing pablum, the church you select should serve healthy portions of Love.

1 Corinthians 13:1

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

As it turns out we attended both church services, consecutively. When your faith and beliefs are strong, you can give glory to God under the roof of any church. I don’t think he’ll mind if you raise your voice and heart in worship, even if you disagree with the doctrine. Granted, it may be best to find another choice for your home church.

On the other hand, if you’re a new believer shopping for a church, your first task is to read your Bible and test what is being taught based on His word. Look for someone you can trust to help. A good pastor will be more than happy to answer questions and find you the help you need to gain understanding.

 In the meantime, whether a newbie or not, keep seeking Him.

In Spite of Us - Chapter Previewhttps://debpalmerauthor.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/christian-author-preview-chapter-in-spite-of-us-stalked-by-a-loving-god/

Auld Lang Syne – “I’ll Be Seeing You… “ Hold Your Loved Ones Close This Year

2015

I don’t yearn for the past, nor desire to have it back. Not a bit. You see, God’s already done a great work in me and continues on with needed changes, of which I anticipate the polished results. I do pay an occasional visit to the days of yore, to honor and cherish the people I’ve known and loved. Listening to the old song “I’ll Be Seeing You… In all the old familiar places,” always reminds me of the impressions people leave behind, some subtle, some bold.

I believe we are the sum of the characters in our life. They mold our capabilities, our service, our fears. So on the eve of yet another New Year, I’ll raise a glass of virgin cheer in honor and remembrance of those I love and look forward to seeing one day again.

As a small child I raised a glass of juice, happy to be awake at midnight, confused why the others were crying.

As a teen, I raised a glass of the alluring forbidden champagne, thinking only of whom I’d like to kiss me and who had better not try.

As a young wife and mother, I raised a glass of bubbly, tears streaming in love for the crazy but loving family around me.

As a mature woman I raised several glasses in regret, remorse and hope for a better year.

As a sober woman, I was back to juice, knowing well, the reason for the tears.

This coming year I hope to hold my loved ones close, well aware how fragile life can be. A quick look back… a glance forward… a long savoring linger in today.

To Nana: (Elsie)

Wise beyond her exit age of 95. She knew the power behind small gestures given consistently. Like licorice ropes, deck of cards and stickers received in the mail. I’m eternally grateful for her secret prayers for my salvation. Guess what Nana… it worked! I miss your exuberant welcomes, the phrase “Bless your heart,” the smell of juicy fruit gum laced with blue carnation toilet water. Mostly, I miss knowing you really liked hanging out with me.

To Mom: (Dema)

Remembered first always for physical beauty… auburn hair, long, graceful limbs, soft brown eyes… old movie star glamor. Her breathtaking outer loveliness, birthed from deep within by a heart of service for others… her children, husband, neighbors, friends and strangers. She modeled a grand spirit of forgiveness. Some days I ache for her smile.

To My Brother: (Danny)

Gone too soon at age 52. Known for extreme character. The joker, prankster, life of the party. To those in close proximity, known also for a big heart. A heart surrounded by a pack of underdogs, accepting his perpetual helping hand. I miss telling you to leave me alone a zillion times, your zeal for life, and that stupid voice with the bad Asian accent. I’m forever grateful for the intense time we had before you parted sharing scriptures and God stuff, side by side, like we used to play Canasta and Monopoly. I expect when we meet again, you’ll jump out from behind the pearly gates, startling me with that familiar “bahahaha!”

To Dad: (Mac)

Big voice, personality and nose… all perfect and belonging together. Would travel cross country to tell a joke if he thought you might laugh. Loved my mother, our country, fried chicken, labor unions. I miss the man you revealed in your last days, the softer, deeper man of thought. I’m grateful for the strong work ethic you instilled and for your drive to support your family, no matter what the cost.

Celebrate the characters in your life, today. Tomorrow they might not show up for the party.

Preview Chapter: LOVE AND AN INTERVENTION: A Dual Memoir About Second Chances

RatedWforWeird

The following is an excerpt from our book, “LOVE AND AN INTERVENTION: A Dual Memoir About Second Chances.” The story is about an unremarkable couple pursued by God at every turn. It’s written in dual perspective – he said/she said. Here’s a few things you need to know to set the stage: New Author  Chapter Preview

It takes place several months after a shaky blind date, in that nearly comfortable stage.   They’re forty-somethings who’ve just graduated college, about to start lives meant for twenty somethings. They stand on the relationship hearth, laden with old baggage.

She is not interested in God… any God. To her, sobriety has no benefits. It’s rather like slaughtering a Led Zeppelin tune to make it playable in elevators. She’s been hurt, and if some guy thinks it’s going to happen again… well, he better be ready because this time guns are loaded. The question is this: Is she attracted to the soft-hearted, God-loving recovering alcoholic bent on becoming a better man, or the selfish, egotistical, biker bad-boy he used to be? New Author  Chapter Preview

He is three years sober and not going back to the party. He loves God… a God of his own design, picking what he likes and dislikes like a child forking through a salad. He sees the red flags she slaps him upside the head with, but hey, she’s not a convict, an improvement over past relationships. The question is this: Is he attracted to the kind, loving, woman underneath her facade, or the mouthy, arrogant bad-girl he sees as a challenge? New Author  Chapter Preview

Oh… did I mention my husband and I are the couple, and this is our true story of God’s perpetual grace?

The sample chapter below is written in Sandy’s (my husband) point of view. It’s one of the more light-hearted chapters, when he meets my colorful parents.  It begins amid the current family drama, the murder of my mother’s cousin, Virginia.

Read the warning and take the risk if you dare. We hope the taste of our story leaves you wanting more.

RatedWforWeird

Chapter 14

Bet he’s never seen anything like it.

            After tedious hours of prep and quizzing by professor Deb, I’m ready to meet the parents. The door opens, I’m drawn into the land of the McFarland’s, a place I believed existed mostly in Deb’s exaggerated imagination. Dema greets us at the door with a hearty, genuine hug. I’m confused because she’s dressed like we’re going to a black tie event and my only instructions were to wear a real shirt with no funny saying on it. She’s all sparkly, with sequins and jewels, the infamous auburn hair and makeup done to perfection. I feel better seeing Mac stretched out on his recliner, dressed like a 1950’s cowpoke.

The 12 by 12 foot living room is furnished for a room three times its size, so you have to cross the room walking sideways. Greetings barely obliged, Dema presses start on a VHS tape she’s had paused and ready for us since we left Yakima. The 60-inch projection television can only be seen from the two recliners placed directly in front, where Mac and Dema sit, both armed with a stack of remotes. Deb and I sit on the orange velvet love seat, our knees sideways so we don’t knock over the glass table in front.

For the next hour we watch news clips recorded from all three major television networks. Deb warned me this might happen, to which my reply was, “No, they wouldn’t do that.” After this, I will not question Deb’s facts. The newscasts escalate from a missing person to murder, while Mac and Dema insert background information, sometimes pausing to make sure we are keeping up.

            Hindered by the sideways view and the interruptions, this is my best translation of the drama: Virginia is Dema’s cousin. No one agrees whether she was on husband six, seven or eight. She has a son named Lynn, a sailor who visited once and made homemade pizza from a box. Virginia had lots of money because of her husbands, that she spent on diamonds and high heels. Dema says Virginia was spoiled as a child. She should know since they took baths together. Virginia was missing four days, with her car mysteriously parked in the driveway. Husband number six, seven or eight, claimed she vanished. Lynn, the pizza making son, flew to Spokane, hoping to help find his mother. Suspicions grew. The police brought search dogs, finding poor Virginia buried in the garden along with the carrots and potatoes. The last news clip shows the husband in handcuffs being carted off in a police car.  An autopsy revealed she had been shot. Everyone is relieved that Aunt Myrt, Virginia’s mom, is not around to see this.

            I’m exhausted and we’ve just begun. Again, Deb was right, insisting my intro to the McFarland’s be brief, without Haley and Jay, who might blab something we don’t want known.

 “I don’t want them to know we’re living together,” said Deb. “If we stay overnight we have two choices – separate rooms, pretending what we all know not to be true – or same room knowing the rest of the family is pow-wowing outside the door, chanting tsk – tsk – tsk.”

Considering our options, a short day trip seemed best. When murder and mayhem conversation dies off we move to the next dramatic scene.

            “Have you shown Sandy the bar?” Mac asks, knowing we’ve not left the front room.  “Bet he’s never seen anything like it.”

            “You haven’t… come on,” Deb says, motioning for me to follow. She side-winds through her childhood habitat, like a snake crossing the desert, while I, new to the obstacle course, bump knees and elbows, unskilled at walking sideways. Mac and Dema follow. She carries a 16-ounce tumbler of scotch and water, room to room, like a portable oxygen tank. The story from Deb is that her mom confesses to the doctor a two drink habit, omitting the constant refreshing and topping off.

            I’ve spent time in bars, all types… redneck, biker, highbrow… dives to swanky black tie joints… home bars, makeshift bars, tailgate specials. Yet none prepared me for the, “McFarland’s Bar.”

Deb’s eyes are begging me for words, but I don’t know what to say.  When words fail me, she involuntarily covers for me, chattering nervously, cooing and fidgeting like a cross between a dove and a quail.

“We had the bar built. It’s regulation. So are the dozen stools,” Mac says.

There’s a mirrored back bar with shelves stocked and ready to fill any drink order. And… Elvis is in the room… rows of gold and silver Elvis bottles peering down from shelves installed around the ceiling. There’s a black light, 20 beer signs, a booth style table and a life size poster of Mac dressed as a woman… an extremely ugly toothless woman with a huge nose… just imagine if Popeye had a sister.  What comment am I to make? Deb is trying to cover for my silence.

“Did you see the disco ball? Cool, huh? Did you know the poster is Dad? The ceiling is painted black for the strobe lights. You should really see what it looks like at night…”

Any moment Deb’s going to shove me on her lap, cram her arm up my butt and move my jaw up and down, like Edgar Bergan and his Charlie McCarthy doll. I open my own mouth to comment, but not fast enough to delay what’s coming next.

Deb’s classy, attractive, soft spoken mom calls me over to the bar. She’s lined up a collection of ceramic figurines. I obey her call, nearing the harmless looking monks and frogs. Then she hands me a monk.

“Turn it around,” she says. “Isn’t that awful?”

As I turn the monk around, he transforms into a ceramic penis. Why is this happening? Dema keeps saying how awful it is… I want to agree. Then she hands me a frog, asking me to turn it over. Do I have to? Deb gives me a “just do it” look.

“Isn’t that awful?” Dema asks again.

I manage a laugh at the anatomically enhanced frog. It’s not that I can’t handle the joke. I feel like I’ve been captured and thrown into someone’s really bad X-rated home movie. Finally, I speak.

            “Deb, where’s the bathroom?”

            The conversation turns from ceramic phallic symbols to towels as I follow Deb’s finger pointing down the hall.

             “I copied your idea to roll towels on the shelves. I really like it.” I hear Dema say to Deb.

            I try to open the door to the bathroom, but something is behind it. I slide through sideways, finding a huge hook on the back of the door holding a stack of robes. The door’s heavy and hard to close on the carpet, but I manage. Standing at the toilet staring at a tall shelf above it, I count 56 hand towels, 49 bath towels and 62 wash cloths, neatly rolled and stacked like cord wood stored for the winter. If a bus load of people needing a bath arrive at the McFarland’s, they’re covered for towels.

            “There are 56 hand towels,” I say to Deb as I squeeze back through the door. She shushes me while peeking in.

“Oh, that looks great Mom. Rolling the towels saves a lot of space.”

            Dinner, however late, is worth it. I’d been told to expect greatness and my hopes were not denied. The table was set with U.S. Navy flatware and individual platters, not plates, crowded with heaping plates of southern fried chicken, mash potatoes, country gravy, biscuits and corn. Seated in unspoken assigned seats, with Mac at the head of the table, I remember one of Deb’s warnings – “Whatever you do, don’t pass the food in the wrong direction, it drives Dad crazy.”

            He passes the procession of steaming bowls ceremoniously clockwise. I try, but curiosity wins, forcing my hand to pass the corn upstream, against the current.  Dema accepts the bowl with a nervous grin… Deb and Mac place their forks on the table, staring me down as if I’m the one who buried Virginia under the carrots. Not wanting to delay indulging in this feast any longer, I retrieve the corn, sending it clockwise. I know what we’ll be discussing on the ride home to Yakima.


 

 

The Marriage Dance – Our Top Ten Differences that Sharpen our Marriage

Marriage - Relationships- Harmony
Marriage: A graceful dance for few – a time of stepping on each other’s toes for many.

As iron sharpens iron,

so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

            The marriage dance… synchronized grace… harmony… coordination.  A couple gliding across the floor, form and shadow… perfection. Sigh…

Then there’s real life marriage, like ours. It’s a dance too. I’m the one, beat abandoned, arms flailing, one foot clogging, the other waltzing. My dance partner/husband Sandy, is the easy does it guy with a lackadaisical sway, dancing, mainly with facial expressions–just picture a stoned mime. That dance accurately describes our daily challenge to not step on each other’s toes.

            Recently on a short road trip we were brainstorming topics for potential blog posts. Doesn’t everyone do that for auto-tainment? I had a banner idea… the top ten annoying things he does that make me crazy. I scribble them with ease in my notebook while he quietly drives down the road. “Finished ta-da!… piece of cake… I’m ready to write the sequel.”

“Okay, but first, I have ten of my own, counter to yours.” he says.

A strong marriage team is like complementary colors which, when placed next to each other, create the strongest contrast and reinforce each other. So here they are below, in living color.

Number One

He’s like a GPS chatterbox. Have you ever heard that saying “ask the time and he’ll build you a clock?” That’s my husband. If you ask for driving directions, you have to know when to walk away, usually after his first three steps. After that… he wanders… listing alternative routes… sharing memories of the last time he was there… asking questions like, “remember the auto parts store on the corner?”

She never pays attention to where she’s going. Even if she’s been someplace a dozen times she’ll ask me for directions… walking away, fingers in ears before I’m finished. Later, she calls, irritated with me because she’s lost.

Number Two

I’m in the middle of a project, reach for my hammer, but it’s nowhere in sight. Why? Because Mr. Neat Nik put it away. He’s OCD about his sacred tools. One day I’m searching for a simple screwdriver. He runs into the garage, clearly shaken, accusing me of tool abuse. The specific crime was opening and closing the drawers too fast causing the pretty little rows of tools to fall out of alignment. Really?

I know Deb’s up and ready to start the day when I walk into the kitchen and bang my head on one of all the cupboard doors left open. Her logic is that she might need back in there someday. And, she’s a junkie for junk drawers. We have 27, with more on the way. What goes in a junk drawer? Whatever fits. She even carries a mobile junk drawer disguised as a purse.

Number Three

I’m forced to live my life at least 15 minutes early. All those minutes spent waiting for the normal guests to arrive. We are always first, period… no challengers. I suspect our friends will soon start tampering with the time on our invitations because they’re tired of entertaining us before the party begins.

She calculates our departure time like a ticking time bomb, not wanting to arrive one millisecond early. What’s with that? What horrendous plight awaits early guests? Do the hosts eat the first to arrive? Punctuality is not a crime. And ish? It’s not a time. Period.

Number Four

He won’t try new things. Food likes and dislikes are written in stone. If it’s green, he’s leery. If he tried something once as a toddler, he’s not giving it another chance. Memories of childhood food traumas rule his adult taste buds.

 I – DON’T – LIKE – LIVER. Is that so complicated? I don’t care how many people she has converted to “liverites” with her special recipe, the flavor and disgusting texture have not changed since I was a kid. That goes for most green foods, like avocados. How about oysters? She tosses raw oysters down her throat and wonders why I don’t trust her food judgment. 

Number Five

As picky as he can be, (see above), he has no problem devouring 30 day old leftover pizza. He responds to my concerns for his health with “what?” And expiration dates on food? They’re just some conspiracy theory bunk.

 40 years ago, she may have gotten food poisoning after eating a burger from one of our local restaurants. It’s obvious she was the only target because they’re still in business today. If they still want Deb dead, she’ll never know because she’s not going back. If I get a craving for one of their famous juicy burgers, I have to sneak for fear she’ll barge through the door with a makeshift stomach pump. Even worse, if she hears someone reported slight nausea after eating at a national chain restaurant across the world, our local version is exnayed off the list… forevermore.

Number Six

Remember the story of the Princess and the Pea? She was so delicate and sensitive she could feel a pea placed under a stack of 10 mattresses. That’s Sandy. He complains of imaginary minute particles jabbing his back side. This carries over to his clothing. He’s been known to remove tags from shirts leaving a gaping hole and according to him, he’s under constant attack from his killer underwear.

You know the saying that “____ rolls downhill?” Well, I‘m bigger than Deb, so my side is where all the crackers, peanuts and popcorn end up. There’s nothing worse than starting the day with a peanut embedded in your back like a 3-d tattoo.

Number Seven

Rules are suggestions and never apply to him. He’ll suffer dire consequences to reserve his right to break the rules. If the button says don’t push, he’s going to push it. If the sign says wrong way, he ignores it. He even jumps up and down on motel beds. My guess is he was told not to when he was three.

She’s a slave to rules. It’s genetic. You better read the guide book before meeting the family. There are rules for all occasions, even simple ones, like dinner. I was warned not to pass food in the opposite direction. If her dad orchestrates the peas, potatoes and meat clockwise, you must abide. I tried, but wouldn’t you be curious what would happen if the biscuits rebelled and suddenly turned counter clockwise? As you can imagine… nothing horrific happened… until later when I got an earful from Deb.

Number Eight

If it were up to Sandy, all life would be freestyle. No plans. There’d be no such thing as wedding planners, special event coordinators or even simple dinner menus. We’d all just show up somewhere random and fend for ourselves. Yet, when life gets messy, he’s right there asking me questions like “what shall we do?” Stick to the plan… oh, yeah… we don’t have one.

Compared to Deb, the Boys Scouts of America are slackers. She over prepares for everything. Her to-do lists have master lists, outlines for future lists and appendices for existing lists. Once she’s tortured me with the original micro-plan, the second “just in case” phase begins, . If she invites you to dinner and you find fifty hungry strays on the way, no worries, she’s ready.

 Number Nine

In his mirror, dressed up means wearing a T-shirt with a clever (subjective) statement. If it’s a worthy quip, holes or stains are no concern. What’s wrong with a starched white shirt and blue jeans? Someday I’m having a shirt made for him that reads: Disclaimer: My wife does not pick out my clothing. 

She gets a sadistic thrill when I wear uncomfortable clothing. Starch is her friend, not mine. My neck will be red, raw and my legs chaffed and bleeding from new stiff jeans… she’ll shoot me a sick grin saying, “you look so nice.” I suspect it’s payback for high heels and bras.

Number Ten

He doesn’t even try to keep up with the conversation. This is the man who can build a house from a tree, fix just about anything and tests high on IQ tests. Yet, he can’t keep up with a lighthearted update chat of the week?

Once again, I try. Yet, I’m the insensitive jerk because I’m lost between conversation change one and two while she’s darting between 11, 12 and 13. How did we go from squash to her mom’s hair color? I’m not sure what kind of tree that is? Yes, I agree the treehouse needs painted this year. I didn’t realize buttermilk was a color. Yes, biscuits sound good for breakfast. I try, I really try.

     Yes, he drives me crazy and, I guess, I have the same effect on him. The truth is, we celebrate these differences as they make us better individuals and strengthen our coupledom. There is mutual benefit in the rubbing of two iron blades together; the edges become sharper, making the knives more efficient in their task to cut and slice.

If you want your own messy relationship to flourish, we have one word of advice:

Lead each other to the cross. Start there… live there… die there.

Beauty Tips from the Acclaimed Universal Expert – God

calla lily field

“Pretty is as pretty does.”

That’s what Mom said… just at the right moments, like when–

I told my little brother I dip his toothbrush in the toilet…daily. Or after he ratted me out, screaming, “Mom, she’s slugging me again.”

If you’ve survived an impish redheaded younger brother, you get it.

Point is, Mom was right.

We look to celebrities walking the red carpet in the fickle flash of stardom. We buy their creams, dyes, wraps, and philosophies, then wonder why our mirrors betray. We follow every beauty tip Cosmo prints with religious zeal. When a star falls, caught spitting vile words, or cheating, lying and stealing, we see through the thin veil of outer appearance. They stand mascara streaked, tongue frantically wagging in defense, all that was lovely, trumped, when ugly rears its nasty head.

We all want to be attractive, men and women alike. So where do we turn for lasting beauty tips that never fade with time? Makes sense we’d ask the universally renowned expert… God. Besides painting all the colors in His infinite Crayola box, he thought them up. Go ahead, take a moment –try to think up a color. It’s a good exercise proving His ways are higher than ours. So, who better to ask than the creator of all beauty? He has plenty to say on the subject, just read his best selling book. Oh, and it’s His only book – guess you don’t need a sequel when you get it perfect the first time.

Here’s a list of His top five Beauty tips (more are available when you read the book).

1. Clean under the rug. rug

Sweep out the dust bunnies hidden in the corners of your heart. They’re ugly, pesky critters jumping out for all to see with the slightest beam of light. Likewise, who wants to drink from a lovely porcelain cup trimmed in gold if the inside is corroded and stained with gunk.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. Luke 11:39

child2. Be like a child.

Not childish, but childlike. Seek the humility of a child who is destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness. Children are characteristically humble, teachable and beautiful. Have you ever listened to a child pray? Not a rote prayer, they don’t understand, but a prayer sent straight from their heart to God. Their prayers soar, express delivery, because they have no excess padding and fluff. Unlike the Pharisees standing on the corner with their pretty prayers, children keep it simple. They might pray for a few dozen dead goldfish, but when their tiny hands raise in praise to their heavenly Father you’ll witness one of life’s most captivating views. Watch and listen to the children, they know what we’ve forgotten long ago.

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Matthew 19:14

3. Feed the imperishable, starve the hungry perishables. mirror

Don’t be a slave to your mirror. Mirrors are unfaithful masters that break into a gazillion pieces and rot beside us in our graves. We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t take it with you.” But if you focus your energies on matters with eternal purpose, you’ll at least have something to carry through the pearly gates.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

4. Don’t worry. calla3

Anxiety, worry and striving are three unattractive traits. I think we’d all agree that Godly confidence is charismatic. A person of steadfast faith draws others near them, effortlessly. I love thinking about the scripture below about ‘how the flowers of the field grow.” It calms me because it’s true. I picture myself spinning in the middle of a field of Calla Lilies. I’m obsessing and asking why, how and what will I do? The Calla Lilies, standing tall in full vibrancy answer me, subliminally, “hey stupid… look at us. Just do what we do.”

“But you’re not doing anything… oh duh.”

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Mathew:6:28

5. Love others. cross

This is God’s number one beauty tip. I saved it for last because if you accomplish this, all the others fall into place. God is love and He is beyond beautiful. He sent his Son to show us. Nothing has or ever will compare to the beauty of His sacrifice. Yet we too can do mighty things through Love. There’s no stain it cannot remove. No darkness it cannot light. No hurt it cannot heal. It never fails. Love’s power pulls you out of the pit, prunes the clinging vines of sin, showers you with grace, and restores us for we are fearfully and wonderfully created.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John3:16